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About gynocentrism

Gynocentrism n. (Greek, γυνή, “female” – Latin centrum, “centred” ) refers to a dominant or exclusive focus on women in theory or practice; or to the advocacy of this.1 Anything can be considered gynocentric (Adj.) when it is concerned exclusively with a female (or specifically a feminist) point of view.2

History

Elements of gynocentric culture existing today are derived from practices originating in medieval society such as feudalism, chivalry and courtly love that continue to inform contemporary society in subtle ways. Peter Wright refers to such gynocentric patters as constituting a “sexual feudalism,” as attested by female writers like Lucrezia Marinella who in 1600 AD recounted that women of lower socioeconomic classes were treated as superiors by men who acted as servants or beasts born to serve them, or by Modesta Pozzo who in 1590 wrote;

“don’t we see that men’s rightful task is to go out to work and wear themselves out trying to accumulate wealth, as though they were our factors or stewards, so that we can remain at home like the lady of the house directing their work and enjoying the profit of their labors? That, if you like, is the reason why men are naturally stronger and more robust than us — they need to be, so they can put up with the hard labor they must endure in our service.”3

The golden casket above depicting scenes of servile behaviour toward women were typical of courtly love culture of the Middle Ages. Such objects were given to women as gifts by men seeking to impress. Note the woman standing with hands on hips in a position of authority, and the man being led around by a neck halter, his hands clasped in a position of subservience.

It’s clear that much of what we today call gynocentrism was invented in the Middle Ages with the cultural practices of romantic chivalry and courtly love. In 12th century Europe, feudalism served as the basis for a new kind of love in which men were to play the role of vassal to women who played the role of an idealized Lord. C.S. Lewis, back in the middle of the 20th Century, referred to this historical revolution as “the feudalisation of love,” and stated that it has left no corner of our ethics, our imagination, or our daily life untouched. “Compared with this revolution,” states Lewis, “the Renaissance is a mere ripple on the surface of literature.”4 Lewis states;

“Everyone has heard of courtly love, and everyone knows it appeared quite suddenly at the end of the eleventh century at Languedoc. The sentiment, of course, is love, but love of a highly specialized sort, whose characteristics may be enumerated as Humility, Courtesy, and the Religion of Love. The lover is always abject. Obedience to his lady’s lightest wish, however whimsical, and silent acquiescence in her rebukes, however unjust, are the only virtues he dares to claim. Here is a service of love closely modelled on the service which a feudal vassal owes to his lord. The lover is the lady’s ‘man’. He addresses her as midons, which etymologically represents not ‘my lady’ but ‘my lord’. The whole attitude has been rightly described as ‘a feudalisation of love’. This solemn amatory ritual is felt to be part and parcel of the courtly life.” 5

With the advent of (initially courtly) women being elevated to the position of ‘Lord’ in intimate relationships, and with this general sentiment diffusing to the masses and across much of the world today, we are justified in talking of a gynocentric cultural complex that affects, among other things, relationships between men and women. Further, unless evidence of widespread gynocentric culture can be found prior to the Middle Ages, then gynocentrism is precisely 800 years old. In order to determine if this thesis is valid we need to look further at what we mean by “gynocentrism”.

Gynocentrism as a cultural phenomenon

The term gynocentrism has been in circulation since the 1800’s, with the general definition being “focused on women; concerned with only women.” 6 From this definition we see that gynocentrism could refer to any female-centered practice, or to a single gynocentric act carried out by one individual. There is nothing inherently wrong with a gynocentric act (eg. celebrating Mother’s Day) , or for that matter an androcentric act (celebrating Father’s Day). However when a given act becomes instituted in the culture to the exclusion of other acts we are then dealing with a hegemonic custom — i.e. such is the relationship custom of elevating women to the role of Lord in relation to male vassals.

Author of Gynocentrism Theory Adam Kostakis has attempted to expand the definition of gynocentrism to refer to “male sacrifice for the benefit of women” and “the deference of men to women,” and he concludes; “Gynocentrism, whether it went by the name honor, nobility, chivalry, or feminism, its essence has gone unchanged. It remains a peculiarly male duty to help the women onto the lifeboats, while the men themselves face a certain and icy death.” 7

While we can agree with Kostakis’ descriptions of assumed male duty, the phrase gynocentric culture more accurately carries his intention than gynocentrism alone. Thus when used alone in the context of this website ‘gynocentrism’ refers to part or all of gynocentric culture, which is defined here as any culture instituting rules for gender relationships that benefit females at the expense of males across a broad range of measures.

At the base of gynocentric culture lies the practice of enforced male sacrifice for the benefit of women. If we accept this definition we must look back and ask whether male sacrifices throughout history were always made for the sake women, or alternatively for the sake of some other primary goal? For instance, when men went to die in vast numbers in wars, was it for women, or was it rather for Man, King, God and Country? If the latter we cannot then claim that this was a result of some intentional gynocentric culture, at least not in the way I have defined it here. If the sacrifice isn’t intended directly for the benefit women, even if women were occasional beneficiaries of male sacrifice, then we are not dealing with gynocentric culture.

Male utility and disposability strictly “for the benefit of women” comes in strongly only after the advent of the 12th century gender revolution in Europe – a revolution that delivered us terms like gallantry, chivalry, chivalric love, courtesy, damsels, romance and so on. From that period onward gynocentric practices grew exponentially, culminating in the demands of today’s feminist movement. In sum, gynocentrism (ie. gynocentric culture) was a patchy phenomenon at best before the middle ages, after which it became ubiquitous.

With this in mind it makes little sense to talk of gynocentric culture starting with the industrial revolution a mere 200 years ago (or 100 or even 30 yrs ago), or of it being two million years old as some would argue. We are not only fighting two million years of genetic programming; our culturally constructed problem of gender inequity is much simpler to pinpoint and to potentially reverse. All we need do is look at the circumstances under which gynocentric culture first began to flourish and attempt to reverse those circumstances. Specifically, that means rejecting the illusions of romantic love (feudalised love), along with the practices of misandry, male shaming and servitude that ultimately support it.

La Querelle des Femmes, and advocacy for women

The Querelle des Femmes translates as the “quarrel about women” and amounts to what we might today call a gender-war. The querelle had its beginning in twelfth century Europe and finds its culmination in the feminist-driven ideology of today (though some authors claim, unconvincingly, that the querelle came to an end in the 1700s). The basic theme of the centuries-long quarrel revolved, and continues to revolve, around advocacy for the rights, power and status of women, and thus Querelle des Femmes serves as the originating title for gynocentric discourse.

If we consider the longevity of this revolution we might be inclined to agree with Barbarossaaa’s claim “that feminism is a perpetual advocacy machine for women”.

To place the above events into a coherent timeline, chivalric servitude toward women was elaborated and given patronage first under the reign of Eleanor of Aquitaine (1137-1152) and instituted culturally throughout Europe over the subsequent 200 year period. After becoming thus entrenched on European soil there arose the Querelle des Femmes which refers to the advocacy culture that arose for protecting, perpetuating and increasing female power in relation to men that continues, in an unbroken tradition, in the efforts of contemporary feminism.8

Writings from the Middle Ages forward are full of testaments about men attempting to adapt to the feudalisation of love and the serving of women, along with the emotional agony, shame and sometimes physical violence they suffered in the process. Gynocentric chivalry and the associated querelle have not received much elaboration in men’s studies courses to-date, but with the emergence of new manuscripts and quality English translations it may be profitable to begin blazing this trail.9

References

1. Oxford English Dictionary – Vers.4.0 (2009), Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199563838
2. Oxford English Dictionary 2010
3. Modesta Pozzo, The Worth of Women: their Nobility and Superiority to Men
4. C.S. Lewis, Friendship, chapter in The Four Loves, HarperCollins, 1960
5. C.S. Lewis, The Allegory of Love, Oxford University Press, 1936
6. Dictionary.com – Gynocentric
7. Adam Kostakis, Gynocentrism Theory – (Published online, 2011). Although Kostakis assumes gynocentrism has been around throughout recorded history, he singles out the Middle Ages for comment: “There is an enormous amount of continuity between the chivalric class code which arose in the Middle Ages and modern feminism… One could say that they are the same entity, which now exists in a more mature form – certainly, we are not dealing with two separate creatures.”
8. Joan Kelly, Early Feminist Theory and the Querelle des Femmes (1982), reprinted in Women, History and Theory, UCP (1984)
9. The New Male Studies Journal has published thoughtful articles touching on the history and influence of chivalry in the lives of males.

kiss

Male Masochism and Culture (1936)

Do males in the Western world display clinical levels of masochism? Has chivalry morphed into a thinly veiled expression of masochism? Is male masochism the true basis of gynocentric culture? Most would agree that chivalry today appears to overlap with clinical masochism – which is why it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the chivalric man and those disparagingly referred to as white knights or manginas.

According to the following excerpt from his 1936 essay Male Masochism and Culture, psychoanalyst Arnold Herman Kamiat fingers masochism as a very real problem among men. With modern academic researchers unable to get past the traditionalist mythology of women as masochistic and men as sadistic, and reluctant to look at the concept of male masochism, we will take Kamiat’s essay as a first examination of the topic and a prefiguration of contemporary gynocentrism theory. – PW

SOCIAL MASOCHISM

The masochism that has hitherto occupied the attention of psychologists is individual masochism. This is the masochism of particular individuals in their subordinate relation, fancied or real, to particular members of the opposite sex.

But there appears to be a social masochism. This involves the subordinate relation, fancied or real, of a number of individuals of the same sex (taken collectively) to a number of individuals of the opposite sex (taken collectively). Social masochism has, strangely enough, received little or no attention.

This essay is, in part, an attempt to establish the reality of this kind of masochism. The masochistic aspiration often takes the form of a vision of an ideal society — ideal from a masochistic viewpoint of course. This is significant for the interpretation of such myths and religious cults as have already been referred to, and the structure of certain primitive and contemporary societies.

It is an interesting speculation whether any of the gynarchies and goddess-cults were conceived, brought into being, and sustained by masochistic men — or sadistic women. The Egyptian gynocracy is said to have been established by a man — King Sesostris. Was he a masochist?

Frazer attributes the primitive gynarchies to the perception of the importance of woman for the continuance of life. But did not androcratic societies have this same perception? Then why were they not gynarchic? At any rate, whatever may have been the origin of gynocracy, the latter must have operated as a breeder of masochism. If male masochism was not the cause of gynarchy, it may very well have been a consequence thereof.

A gynarchy is probably a large-scale producer of male masochism. Once generated, the latter will in its turn serve to sustain the gynarchy (as female masochism probably bred by androcracy serves to maintain the latter). Certain it is that gynarchies have in fact exhibited phenomena calculated to enter into full accord with the aspirations of male masochists. Some of these phenomena have been recorded by the Vaertings in their book, The Dominant Sex.

This book, like practically all writings on sex conflicts and sex dominance, takes no account whatsoever of the fact and the psychology of sado-masochism — an index of that strange inability so many writers on social topics reveal to give due attention to psychological factors. But the book does contain a store of valuable information, and some of the phenomena it describes certainly lend themselves to interpretation via the masochistic hypothesis.

The marital relation lends itself to masochistic uses under any scheme of social organization, including an androcratic one. No one knows how often a dominant wife is really the creation and the instrument of a masochistic husband — it is not at all unlikely that such is often the case. On the other hand, the wish being ‘father to the thought,’ a masochistic man will often ascribe a dominant position to his or someone else’s wife, lover or mistress, when the true position is really one of equipollence or subordination. Rumor, gossip and report are often species of phantasy.

MASOCHISTIC MYTHS OF TODAY

It has been seen that in the ancient world individual masochistic phantasies became generalized into socially shared ideas. They entered into, and became part of the mythos of a race or nation. The mythologies of the ancient world have in large part gone, but masochism has persisted, and masochism must have its mythos, social as well as individual.

Krafft-Ebing and other writers on the subject stress the individual mythos. It is contended here that masochists also have their socially shared mythology. The world today is not without its stock of socially shared masochistic myths — phantasies held by male masochists everywhere, and by those who come under their influence. Indeed, the mythology in question has become a source of revenue, and with all educational agencies utilized by the myth-peddlers, the myths are becoming the property of both masochists and non-masochists, men and women.

The myths masquerade as philosophy, psychology, sociology, biology, educational theory, and schemes of social reform. Their most common characteristics are an imaginary magnification of feminine power, a correlative imaginary depreciation of masculine power, an imaginative depiction of woman as the savior of mankind (Goethe’s “The Woman-Soul leadeth us upward and on;” see also E. A. Robinson’s Merlin and Auguste Comte’s System of Positive Polity), and an aspiration toward some kind of gynarchic social order or way of life.

At times the phantasies take on a distinctly paranoid character, with women being envisaged as designing, conspiring, invincible Vivians, Circes and Delilahs. All this mythopoesis issues in certain familiar pictures of “reality,” “life,” and “love.” In these pictures an omnipotent womanhood carries on all kinds of transactions with a powerless manhood.

The phraseology is familiar — woman is the seat of power; the source of life; the conserver of life; the keeper of all ideals, all wisdom, all morality, all practicality, all culture; she is the fount and origin of all that is good; she is the one great constructive force; her practically infallible instincts and intuitions facilitate an instant grasp of the greatest truths of life, truths that men laboriously strive to attain, truths some of which are utterly beyond masculine ken; woman’s function is to govern, man’s but to obey; she is anyhow the ruler, androcracy being but a delusion; she is the center of the home and its ruler; outside of the home her power is equally great, men of importance being merely the instruments of their wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, mistresses, private secretaries, office assistants, or wise and inspiring feminine friends; the greatest revolution of all time is at hand: women will soon take matters in hand and transform life in all its departments; and so on, and so on, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

It is not asserted that all this is manufactured solely by male masochists. Plenty of it flows out of feminine minds, and a good deal out of male minds that are either neurotic, or ignorant, or adolescent, or afflicted with a particularly morbid form of gyneolatry. There is a tendency, present in its most virulent form in neurotics of both sexes, toward the imaginative magnification of the power of the opposite sex. The idea of feminine, or masculine power, becomes emotionally charged. It thereupon looms larger and larger in consciousness until all perspective is lost and a rational comparative evaluation of the relative power and influence of the sexes becomes well-nigh impossible.

A reporter who must have been something of a psychoanalyst, while interviewing a male prophet of the “coming” feminine revolution, inquired of him concerning his childhood relation to his mother. In answer, the prophet, who has turned his gynophilia into a source of income, described his mother as exercising an unusual dominance over him as a child.

Masochism may enter into the makeup of a certain type of male, often of mystic temperament, with an adolescent notion of women as in some sense divine, exuding love and possessed of infallible intuitions, revealing “truths” greater and more profound than any mediated by mere science and philosophy, and who can solve all his problems for man, if he will only submit to her rule. This kind of male, for all his babble about the gynarchic future, in reality lives in the past, the gynarchic past. It is the gynarchy he wants to restore, albeit in a refined form.

Gynocracy of one sort or another has had and still has its pseudo – philosophical and pseudo-scientific defenders. Perhaps the best known of these is Auguste Comte, whose brief in the fourth chapter of his System of Positive Polity is one of the most curious and adolescent pieces of writing in the history of philosophy. The names of some living men would be in place here. The reader, if he will keep a sharp lookout on books, newspapers, magazines, and lecture announcements, can supply these names himself.

See also: Male Masochism and Gynocentrism in Victorian women’s literature

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Definition of gynocentrism

1. [General definition] (Greek: γυνή, “female” – Latin: centrum, “centred”)

(a). n. Dominant or exclusive focus on women in theory or practice; or to the advocacy of this. Sometimes practiced to the detriment of non-females.
(b) Gynocentric (adj). Anything can be considered gynocentric when it is concerned exclusively with a female (or specifically a feminist) point of view.

2. [Sociology]

(a). A pervasive cultural complex geared to prioritizing women and their interests.
(b). A category for individual gynocentric acts or events (eg. Mother’s Day).

3. [Biology]

(a). The biological tendency in humans to prioritize female reproductive capacity.

4. [Psychology]

(a). An exclusive focus on the psychological experiences or behavior of women.
(b). Female-prioritizing mental schemas and associated emotional responses.

 

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EARLIEST MENTIONS OF GYNOCENTRISM

Etymology dictionaries do not record the history and earliest usage of the term gynocentrism. Research of literature archives for this website reveals that gynocentrism has been in use since at least as the late 1800s. Here are a few early references to gynocentrism and gynocentric:

The Open Court, Volume 11 (Open Court Publishing Company, 1897)
1897

The Independent, Volume 67, Issues 3175-3187 (Independent Publications, incorporated, 1909)
1909

From Dublin to Chicago: Some Notes on a Tour in America (George H. Doran Company, 1914)
1914
FULL-TEXT:
Women in USA 1914

Gynocentrism continued to appear in literature throughout the nineteenth century and into the present with a stable meaning of female centered, and especially to a culture so disposed, in which:

“It is arranged with a view to the convenience and delight of women. Men come in where and how they can.” [1914]

Until recently the term was employed infrequently, perhaps due to the availability of more simpler phrasings such as ‘woman centered’ or ‘female dominated.’ However it has enjoyed a resurgence since the mid 1980s and through the turn of the 21st century in response to increasing hegemony of gynocentric culture and feminist governance.

Woman train railway tracks Flickr

Gynocentrism 2.0, compassion, and choice: The underlying root of men’s issues

By Tom Golden

I have long held that compassion and choice are two issues that play a part in nearly every men’s issue. But why? What do compassion and choice have to do with male suicide or male victims of domestic violence or just about any other men’s issue? Quite a bit actually. Let’s take a look at why compassion and choice are limited for men and then see how compassion and choice are essential ingredients to the issues.

firemanThe origins of the lack of compassion and choice for men is gynocentrism. When you start to understand gynocentrism you will start to better understand the plight of men and boys. Gynocentrism at its most basic, is the mandate that women and children be kept safe and provided for at the expense of men. In other words, men are designated to insure the safety and provisions for women and children on an individual level, the family level, community level and on a macro level. This is not a totally bad thing. It has been what has created and maintained many cultures for millennia. As Stefan Molyneux says, “Eggs are scarce and sperm is plentiful.” This means we have needed to sacrifice our sperm in order to insure the safety of our eggs. Without women the culture dies a quick death. Women must be protected. Gynocentrism protects those who carry the eggs and does this at the expense of its men. This has been a very important element to our cultural success but it does come at a price.

One consequence of protecting the women is that the men will need to at times face danger. The women need to be kept safe and the men will protect the boundary and sometimes die in that process. Our human history of gynocentrism is longer and deeper than most assume. We think of the hunter gatherers as serene and bucolic but that was sometimes far from the truth and gynocentrism predominated. Research shows that some South American hunter gatherer groups faced huge numbers of deaths of their men protecting the women and children.1 One group averaged the death of nearly 60% of its males in protecting the women from inter tribal attacks that were among other things, designed to steal the other group’s women! (the average for the groups studied was near 30% male deaths as a result of raids, ambush or larger scale conflicts) He who had the most women wins and these groups made a huge sacrifice of their males to insure they kept their women and children safe.

In its most obvious we can see how gynocentrism plays out when we note that men automatically and without question are the ones facing danger in our culture. Our war dead are nearly 100% male. Our deaths in dangerous occupations are 93% men. Our trashmen and sewage workers are nearly all male. The dirtiest and most dangerous jobs are jobs for men. No one questions this. It just seems right. This is the hidden power of gynocentrism. No one questions and no one notices. Hell, if women actually got equality to the above it would be a huge step down for them.

wheelBut gynocentrism runs much deeper than simply being about protecting the borders and doing the dangerous work. It has its tendrils into just about everything, silently and without fanfare. What happens when a woman has a flat tire? How many people have seen the help she will usually garner from men? Now think about what happens if a man has a flat tire. Does he get a similar treatment? Probably not. This is gynocentrism. When there are problems we jump to help women but expect the men to handle it themselves even in today’s atmosphere of “equality”.

What happens when a woman is upset and falls into a sea of tears? Pretty much the same thing as the flat tire. People hover to offer support and see what might be wrong and what they can do. But what happens when men fall into a similar sea? People ignore him and avoid him. It is almost as if a woman’s pain is a call to action while a man’s pain is taboo. Compassion offered to men is a fraction of the compassion offered to women.

There are a number of youtube videos that employ actors to portray men beating women in public. The women are shown to get immediate support and help from male onlookers who see the violence. They quickly jump to her aid not knowing it is an arranged scene. These same videos then reverse the roles and show the women beating men in a similar manner and no one lifts a finger, in fact, they laugh. This is gynocentrism. We expect to help the women and expect the men to help themselves. Note also that we allow women to be dependent but do not allow the same for men.

On an even simpler level think of a man and a woman at work who need to move some boxes from one location to another. Some are heavy, some are light. Who will be moving the heavy ones? It is a foregone conclusion that the man will most often move the largest boxes and will protect her from having to do hard labor. This is gynocentrism.

And then there is the question of attractiveness. When a woman is attractive she gets special perks simply due to her appearance. No man can come close to having a similar response. This is gynocentrism. The eggs are protected and the attractive eggs get very special treatment.

modelThink of that attractive woman being tied to the railroad tracks. What does that do to the hearts and minds of most people? Most of us have an inborn reaction that says DO SOMETHING to help her. But what about a man tied to the tracks? Is your reaction the same or different? Yes, you likely want to see him helped but is it the same gut wrenching sensation? The plots of many movies and novels are fueled by this gynocentric scenario. We all want the woman tied to the tracks safely released even if it means the death of numerous men in the process. A woman’s needs are a call to action while a man’s needs are often just ignored. He needs to save her!

Just think for a minute what would happen to a man in the military who started complaining that we needed to have more female war deaths in order to make things equal for everyone. How would he be received? All hell would break loose at this questioning of the gynocentric norm and disregard for the safety of women. We see something similar when the opposite happens and men voice their desires for equal opportunities for services for men in things like domestic violence. Those who stand up for the needs of men in our gynocentric culture are seen as misogynistic, that is, they are routinely accused of hating women simply for pointing out the needs of men. Can you see how the fuel for this is gynocentrism?

militaryAnother example of extreme gynocentrism is boot camp in the army. What is done? The recruit is taught that he is nothing. He is now not an individual, he is a part of a fighting group. His personal identity is deleted and he is taught to fight for the group, for a cause. He no longer exists. There is no compassion for his personal feelings and needs. Those are a distant second. He also has zero choice. He does what he is told. That is the extreme gynocentric model that plays out to one degree or another in our everyday life.

Do we care about the feelings of the woman tied to the tracks? Oh yes. Do we care about the feelings of the hero who rescues her? No. We care about his actions. His emotions are not important unless his feelings are about HER. Do we care about the emotions of the boot camp recruit? Nope. We care about his actions and what he does. His feelings need to be kept to himself. In the same way, under the gynocentric default we tend to care about the emotions of women but will be averse to the emotions of men. Our interest moves more towards his actions. Think about the last time you saw a woman cry in public. What was your reaction? Most of us want to help, want to offer support. We are drawn to her neediness. Now think about a man crying under the same circumstances you saw the woman. Are you as open to his tears as the woman? Most of us say no, we are not. We are repulsed by his neediness. The man is not expected to be needy, he is expected to have agency. If he is seen as needy he is judged harshly. This is gynocentrism.

These sorts of advantages for women have been going on for many years. In the 19th century men would strive to do the best job of keeping women safe and provided for. Just read their diaries and the diaries of their wives. These men put women on a pedestal. They thought of them as angelic and would try their best to not have them sully themselves with the grime of daily life outside the home. They worked hard to have them stay away from “dirty”things like the workplace or money. They did this because they saw women as worthy of protection (gynocentrism) and were happy to take on the extra burden in order to keep her safe. Then along comes feminism which makes the incredibly noxious and inaccurate claim that women were not held in high esteem at all, they were being oppressed. They took the protections that women had benefited from for centuries and spun them into being oppression. In my opinion this is the biggest lie of the 20th century and it has left a wake of chaos and vitriol. Women now actually believe themselves to be victims and that they have been shortchanged and oppressed. These are the same women who didn’t have to go to war, didn’t have to do the dirty work of building or maintaining the culture, were held in high esteem and basically worshiped (as American as Mom and Apple Pie) now see this as oppression. Houdini could not have done a more impressive magic trick.

So what do you think happened? It could be easily predicted that gynocentrsim would insure that when women appear to be in danger or need that men will jump and meet those needs as best they can. That’s the way both men and women are programmed. And that is just what happened. The feminists claimed to be tied to the tracks and rode, and continue to ride the gynocentric wave of men keeping women safe. Their unfounded claims that women were oppressed and held back have been taken seriously by well meaning highly gynocentric males, including male legislators. These claims of women being tied to the tracks and needing government intervention were welcomed by our gynocentric legislators who wanted to bend over backwards to help women. Over the years women have been given more and more while simultaneously continuing to enjoy the same gynocentric advantages they have been getting for hundreds of years. Our legislators have backed themselves into a corner and are now afraid to say no. They know that they have been hijacked but don’t have the courage to say no to saving a damsel in distress. Saying no would insure a loss in the next election.

This was the beginning of what I like to call Gynocentrism 2.0. The cultural imperative of caring for women continues and is now amplified by false claims of women having been oppressed. Simultaneously Gynocentrism 2.0 showed not only increased focus on the needs and desires of women, it also made a dramatic switch. Men in gynocentrism 1.0 were held in high esteem when they followed through with their role. They were both respected and admired and this was fuel for the masculine. Both sexes were held in high esteem. Now that fuel for men has run out as the admiration and respect has been gaudily replaced with disdain and blame. Incredibly, now men are seen as the problem and held accountable for social problems as if they were the cause. It is all the men’s fault. Much is said about men not doing very well these days but very few people note this important shift. When you don’t put fuel in the engine it ain’t goin too far.

In Gynocentrism 2.0 entire bureaucracies are built to serve women and cater to their difficulties but there are rarely any such bureaucracies built for men. The women are left with a choice of whether to seek help at a government funded facility (payed for with mostly male tax dollars) built for them while the men are left with no choices.

stopviolenceagainstwomen2One of the best examples of this is the issue of domestic violence where we have known for decades that men are a sizable portion (likely nearing 50%) of the victims of domestic violence but all of the laws and services are built for women. We spend nearly a billion dollars a year for the Violence Against WOMEN Act (VAWA) that marginalizes the 50% of male victims. Recent research exposed the sad fact that when men who are the victims of domestic violence go to these government funded services for help they are treated very poorly. Often when the men are victims of domestic violence and they turn to the government funded services they are told that they are not victims of domestic violence, they are accused of being the perpetrators! They then send him to treatment for perpetrators! Researchers are calling this third party abuse, when the government bureaucracy as a third party, participates in the continued abuse of a victim. This is gynocentrism 2.0 which leaves no compassion for men and far fewer choices in seeking help.

I was involved in lobbying for male victims of domestic violence during the reauthorization of the VAWA in both 2005 and 2012. Our group was well received by then Senator Biden. He and his staff listened to our data and stories about male victims in several meetings at his Senate office. He assured us we would be a part of the hearings. When the hearing came not one of our group was allowed to speak. I couldn’t believe it. Biden was totally aware of the problem of male victims and intentionally sabotaged our efforts to find support for men. It was then that I realized how deeply our system is biased and non-functional. Gynocentrism 2.0.

It’s important to point out that our government has been pushing a gynocentric agenda for some time. In the 1960’s President Johnson set in motion the War on Poverty which proceeded to demand the removal of black fathers from their families in order for mom to get welfare. Now our family courts are doing something similar as they remove fathers from the home through no fault on the fathers part. The woman’s needs come first, father’s a distant second.

My state of Maryland created a Commission for Men’s Health a number of years ago. I was fortunate to serve as the vice chair of that commission and wrote three of the four reports that were to be sent to the governor. The reports I wrote were what I call “male friendly.” That is, they voiced and considered the needs of men without bowing to the prevailing political correctness. The chairman of the commission wrote the other report which was a bit more what the Health Department, our host agency, was anticipating. All four reports were unanimously approved by the full commission. When the commission’s work was done and it came time to file the reports to the governor and a host of other Maryland politicians and get them into the Maryland State Library the Health Department only filed the report that was written by the Chairman. They were confronted with this and said, “ooops, we will file it now.” But they didn’t. It took a year to track down the files and finally get them into the Maryland system. The full story of this event will be told in a chapter in Janice Fiamengo’s upcoming book. It couldn’t be more clear that when the needs of men were given voice, the status quo balked. It seems that our mid level bureaucrcrats are filled with gynocentrism 2.0.

I think you can see now how women’s complaints and our legislators zealous rush to help them have turned things topsy turvy. Rape shield laws have been written to protect the rape victims and this is a good thing. But those same laws failed to protect the accused man. His name can be released to the media prior to any conviction. Her name is permanently protected while his name is plastered all over the media and he has his life ruined simply due to an accusation which may or may not be proven false . Gynocentrism 2.0.

blog-suicideAnother example is the issue of suicide where males are 80% of all completed suicides. Incredibly this 80% fact is rarely mentioned in the media leaving most people unaware that the biggest risk factor in suicide is being male. It is not surprising that females get the majority of attention around suicide both clinically and in research. This even though men are the vast majority of those needing help. In 2009 the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) did some research on suicide. I was shocked to see it was a study on girls! I wrote to then NASW Director Elizabeth Clark and asked why the research focused on girls when it was men and boys who were the vast majority of suicides. She wrote me back and said that the funder for the research had specified to only study girls. Just imagine for a moment someone who funded research for Sickle Cell Disease but stipulated the research had to be on whites. Can you imagine the outrage? Blacks are 60-80% of those with Sickle Cell disease and to study only whites would be seen as totally racist but somehow studying only girls and suicide is okay. That is gynocentrism.

Our gynocentric legislators have outlawed any form of genital mutilation of females but have failed to do the same for our baby boys. Boys routinely undergo a surgical removal of part of their penis without anesthesia. Of course the baby boys scream during and after this mutilation. Some nurses say they have seen baby boys scream for days after. Many are thinking today that this trauma creates PTSD for those males who have been circumcised and presently about four out of every 5 males in the United States has suffered this mutilation. boy PixabayResearch is showing that psychological impact of circumcision on boys is similar to the psychological impact for girls who have undergone genital mutilation. This procedure is damaging our boys while most people think it is simple little snip. Wrong. We care about our little girls but fail in mustering enough compassion for boys to shelter them from such barbaric treatment and we give them no choice. Gynocentrism.

In healthcare we have seen our legislators create seven national commissions for women’s health but none for men. We have official government web sites for womenshealth.gov and girlshealth.gov but just look at what happens when you go to menshealth.gov or boyshealth.gov. Nothing. You find a 404 page not found error. It does not exist. Get the picture? When anyone starts looking critically at our world it becomes clear that gynocentrism is at its core. We constantly hear criticism of men not going to the doctor etc but look at the concern for their health above by not even having a web site. Women in need get the help and men just need to take care of themselves. Just like the flat tire we talked about above. And no one is even aware this is going on.

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Warren Farrell put together a group of clinicians, academics, researchers, authors and other experts on men and boys who wrote a proposal for a White House Council on Boys and Men. I was happy to be included as one of those who put the proposal together. President Obama had created a council for women and girls as soon as he got into office. Now he was being asked to do the same for boys and men. One of our group members, a man named Willie Isles was an executive with the Boy Scouts and had a meeting scheduled with the President. The plan was for Willie to have two Boy Scouts introduce the idea of the White House Council on Boys and Men to the President. Just before that meeting was to take place the discussion of a council for boys and men was struck from the agenda. It was forbidden to even be discussed. Gynocentrism anyone?

There is an anti-male bias in mental health research. One study on teen relationship violence found that boys and girls are suffering from this problem at similar rate. But once the research is translated into news articles it only focuses on the hardships the girls face. Worse yet, once the study is translated by legislators into an action plan to help the teen violence problem the only ones offered assistance are the girls while the boys are blamed. Yes, boys are abused but they simply don’t get compassion. Gynocentrism

research-tableIn one study about childhood rape the researchers found that boys were more often the victims of actual childhood rapes than the girls. Then in writing up their research failed to specifically include this information about boys as victims of rape. Furthermore, when they went to the media they also failed to mention the fact that they have found that boys were raped more often than girls. Gynocentrism.

Title IX — Has been a great help to girls and athletics but has dismantled over 1000 men’s college teams. We focus on helping women but ignore the pain of men.

We have all heard of the racial sentencing bias where blacks tend to get stiffer sentences than whites for the same crime. But the research is telling us that there is a bias that is six times as large as the racial bias that sentences men to longer sentences than women. Yet, we hear nothing of this in the media and no one seems to care. Clearly the judges have less compassion for men and offer them far less choice.

I have seen a number of men in therapy who came to me when their wives wanted an abortion and they (the men) wanted to keep the child. The men were powerless to do anything. Can you see how these men had no choice in the matter? His wife said, “My body, my choice” and he said “My child, your choice, I have none.” He had no choice and if he had said something I feel sure he would have heard some variation of big boys don’t cry. Know what I mean? Can you see how no one really cares or offers them compassion for their plight? Compassion and Choice.

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Look at men’s clubs and men’s spaces that have been traditional places for men to gather. Gone. They have been opened to women and not replaced with anything that would give men a safe place to simply gather with other men. Men gathering became the enemy with the accusation of secret deals that would keep women out of business dealings. At the same time all women’s clubs have soared. Women only gyms, women only parking places, women only subway cars, women only everything….but no comparable opportunities for men. There are even groups that keep track of all of the groups for women. One is The National Association of Commissions for Women which keeps track of the literally hundreds of commissions for women. That is gynocentrism 2.0 on steroids.

Instead of thinking of choice for men, the majority of our gynocentric culture are thinking instead the word “should.” Men should do this, men should do that and if they don’t, they are not really men. Most men are caught in this drama that researchers are calling “precarious manhood” where men are forced to prove their worth repeatedly in order to be called men. Women do not face a similar situation.

Professions are not immune to Gynocentrism. The profession of social work is a prime example. This group is focused on women and ignores the needs and the hardships of men. Their educational system offers classes on just about every possible client to work with including women, gays, handicapped, children but fails to teach their charges even the first thing about men and boys. This even though men and boys make up a good portion of the clientele they will be working with.

meninsw2 6Our focus has been on a larger scale or macro level and it is very easy to see the imbalance in so many spheres. The point here is not that the services that have been created were not a good thing or were undeserved. Many of the services offered have been very helpful to women and girls. The point here is that it has been a very one sided ride with nearly all the services going to women and girls and the men and boys basically ignored. Men and boys have simply not gotten compassion and choice. Gynocentrism 2.0.

But let’s take a quick look at the impact of gynocentrism on a micro level. We have seen so far that the public has very little interest in men’s emotions. While that is surely true on a macro level it is also the case on the micro. What is the tired and hackneyed message that the some women offer her man? Oh, they say “You are not dealing with your feelings.” I hope you can see now that this sort of shaming is really an excuse to NOT deal with his emotions. Much has been written by gynocentric types about men’s not emoting in public, or men not emoting like women, while maintaining the underlying assumption that there must be something wrong with them. But almost nothing has been written about the brick wall men face when they do emote. When men have emotions people disappear. No one wants to hear it.

What I have seen repeatedly is that men have very different ways to process emotions. Ways that are invisible to most. They have likely developed these different ways due to the prevalence of gynocentrism and are happy with their paths to work with their own emotions and gladly take care of things on their own without fanfare and “help.” The saddest part of this is that most women simply do not see his different ways and assume he is “doing it wrong” since it isn’t like what she does.

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Conclusion

Gynocentrism creates a cultural default both on a micro and macro level where women’s distress is a call to action and a man’s distress is seen at best as a distraction and at worst a taboo. This leaves men being offered considerably less compassion and fewer choices. In the past 50 years the original gynocentric defaults have morphed into gynocentrism 2.0 which has seen a huge increase in both the lop-sided services favoring women and the disdain and blame focused on men.

Very few people are conscious of this habitual default, they simply assume it is just the way the world works.

Becoming more and more aware of gynocentrism makes it easier to see why men are 80% of the completed suicides but are basically ignored. It makes sense now that men are nearly 50% of the victims of domestic violence but are routinely disregarded. It makes sense now why boys genital mutilation is the fourth most popular surgical procedure in the U.S. even though it is unnecessary and highly damaging. The world is geared to have compassion for women’s needs but not as much for the needs of men. We could go on and on about each of the many men’s issues and see how the lack of compassion and choice plays a part in their dilemma.

The unconscious nature of gynocentrism may be its most ruinous aspect. People are simply unaware of the great differences in the way men and women are treated. It is in some ways reminiscent of the racism I remember in the mid 20th century. People were simply unaware of their treatment of blacks. There were surely outright bigots at the time but the majority of people were basically asleep to the impact of their attitudes and behaviors and went along with the status quo that treated blacks and whites in significantly different ways. The general public was duped by a media that portrayed blacks as inferior and an educational system and even academic research that did the same. With gynocentrism 2.0 we are seeing something very similar but instead of the blacks it is now our men. Today’s gynocentrism is made up primarily of people who are basically unaware of the impact of their behaviors and are simply going along with the gynocentric status quo.

It’s time to wake up.

Knowing these things and taking the red pill makes it important for us to start offering men and boys greater compassion and choice.

 
And let’s not forget. Men Are Good!

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Breaking the Mold: Narrative Therapy With Men

By Peter Wright & Paul Elam

As men, we are born into the storybook world of brave knights saving damsels, stoic acts in the face of pain and suffering, and glorious deeds of male heroics. All these things constitute the psychological diet on which boys are raised.

Whether Sir Lancelot, Superman, a great athlete or firefighter, these archetypes silently shape our identity and direct our behaviors, often for the better and often at great cost. They are the living templates men use to map their world, to construct their sense of self, and to direct their behaviors in relationships with others.

Therapy with men, then, must involve a significant and compassionate understanding of the narratives that guide them, and must work within those narratives to carve out a path toward meaningful change.

To that end we will tentatively title a male-friendly approach to working with men, a Narrative Therapy With Men.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of narrative therapy, we need first to examine the place where therapy, coaching and counseling happens, which is more often than not an environment tailored to suit female sensibilities.

The Therapeutic Setting

Many therapy rooms have pretty decor, flowers, artwork, an essential-oil diffuser, and of course face-to-face seating positioned to honor the typical female preference for eye to eye contact and sharing.

You will find tissues placed conveniently on a side table in a decorative box, conveying the silent expectation of tears, shared feelings, and emotional catharsis.

In a way the therapy office mimics an hour at the cafe sipping lattes, for which women might prepare by thinking about what clothing to wear and what juicy bits of personal drama they might like to share. Then to round it off with all the sincerity of here’s your bill and have-a-nice-day.

So much for the male friendly therapy environment.

Imagine instead a therapy office in the boiler room of a ship, in a workshop, a park, a building site, mechanics shed or a sports locker room, with seating arrangements that allowed men to sit at 45 degree angles or side by side — engaged in some kind of task if they wished.

Imagine too if we were to engage in some kind of typical male play or industry – not just Jungian sandplay or water-color art therapies as suits the more effeminate sensibilities of women, but hands on therapy – while driving a truck, fixing the engine of a car or building a piece of furniture.

Or, if you prefer, something recreational. Standing on a peer fishing, hiking up the side of a hill or sitting beside a campfire.

When it comes to communication, men like a medium, something through which to channel their energy.

Lea Winerman, a staff writer for the American Psychological Association asks us to “imagine the Marlboro man in therapy.”

“The image just doesn’t compute, does it?” she half-asks, half-declares. Then she adds with obligatory condescension, “The Marlboro man wouldn’t admit to needing help.”

We can agree with Winerman that it is impractical to expect the Marlboro Man to sit in a feminized office, with a feminist-trained female counselor and gush his emotions on demand. But perhaps he would be more open to discussing his issues while riding a horse, stacking bales of hay or enjoying a beer?

As with boys, who are more engaged when kinetic learning is applied to the school curriculum, men too are generally more inclined to thrive outside of the prettified and sedentary counselor’s office — in the world where real life takes place.

For most men the average counseling office is not only in poor taste, it is at once anesthetizing and pressurized. It is an environment where the senses are dulled and urges male participants to do something that is already likely a problem in their lives – the expectation to perform for the benefit of a woman.

This is a critical point to make. As we examine the narratives of men, as we look at their stories, what we find with great redundancy is the expectation for them to perform for women. From the mandate to please mothers, to protection and provision for women, to heroic sacrifice and even down to the basic assumed responsibility for the female orgasm, we see men in a role to satisfy through performance.

What then can possibly be happening in the minds of men sitting in female dominated space, box of tissue at their side, with a woman saying “tell me how you feel” about this or that? Even worse, asking such probing questions with the implication that he is an empty emotional vessel in need of her redemption.

There is little there for most men. Indeed, if we honestly and compassionately examine the narrative of men’s lives, we have to agree with Ms. Whinerman again. There is no reason to imagine why the Marlboro man, or any other man, would have much to say to her at all, and the ones who do are likely just caving to the pressure to perform.

Without some kind of activity or medium to engage in other than naked personal drama and emoting, men tend to disengage. Feminist inspired therapy would have us believe that this is because men are emotionally stunted and ill-equipped to articulate feelings.

In reality, the only thing men are ill-equipped at is being women, which is why standard talk-therapy is such a poor option for most of them.

Like boys, men are more likely to connect with the therapist and be willing to table his issues (vs share his feelings) when they are engaged in something meaningful.

Rather than shaming men as recalcitrant therapy clients, we must take a different approach and offer them a greater variety of places in which to speak to their issues. Therapy can still take place in the traditional face to face manner in an office, but it can also take place in any of the environments mentioned before, providing the therapist is willing to step out of his or her chair and begin walking, literally, while the therapy takes place.

Alternatively, if the logistics of getting together with the therapist are restrictive, digital mediums like Skype can provide the platform, again with special consideration to siting postures: men might prefer to sit at an angle to the camera and have the therapist do the same, or he might prefer the vision switched to off altogether. For the tech-savvy therapist male-friendly backgrounds for his digital office might be employed on request – a bar, a mechanics shed, a kitchen… you name it.

And yes, unless a client has issues with alcohol, a beer during the session may not be out of the question.

That proposition will seem scandalous to some practitioners. However, we estimate the knee-jerk hostility to such ideas is rooted firmly in an academically acquired ignorance of men and their needs. It is consistent with trying to put them into the female emotional mold.

Finally, the language of the therapeutic session might need to undergo a similar revolution, depending on the client’s imagination, with less emphasis on unquantifiable metaphors like personal growth and empowerment, or on feelings, and more on metaphors of manual-activity to describe emotional processes; men speak in terms of wrestling with challenges, hammering problems out, trying to understand the mechanics of depression, and when considering objectives, they might hope to score a goal: to nail it, as it were.

To summarize, a new therapy for men might consider utilizing new settings for conducting consultations, including the use of a wider range of manual activities – occupations and crafts – as therapeutic mediums.

Having briefly sketched out the ‘where’ of therapy, we can now move onto the ‘what’ of the therapy.

The Practice of Therapy

Narrative Therapy with Men assumes the following principles as axiomatic:

  • Rejects misguided concepts like patriarchy theory and toxic masculinity.
  • By definition it is tailored exclusively to men’s experiences, men’s ways of thinking and behaving.
  • Does not hinge on demonizing or problematizing men
  • Sees learned detachment as essential to problem solving
  • Recognizes the unique emotional and psychological acumen of men
  • Sees the therapist as more of a coach or mentor than an emotional conduit.
  • Seeks to use men’s kinetic inclination as an asset, rather than treat it as an impediment to progress
  • Narratives, the building-blocks of our worldview become the focal point around which the therapy hinges, and include the following objectives:
  1. Identifying the current narrative

The way we tell our story is the way we form our therapy,1 so the first task for each man is to narrate his story about himself and his world. These initial narratives form the primary datum which sets the future direction of the therapy, a direction completely unknown until the stories are verbalized.

As stories are shared, likenesses between them and popular cultural stories can be discussed – such as classical myths, fairy tales, biographies of the famous or from movies, to bring the material alive. The comparison stories act as bass chords that animate the material under discussion, and to help depersonalize the content so that it no longer seems unique and isolating – ie. such stories belong to our collective cultural history and are thus very far from personal.

  1. Externalizing the narrative

Carl Jung was famed for saying “We don’t have complexes, the complexes have us.” The same can be said of narratives, including our personal ones. The stories and archetypes that drive our lives underscore the importance of gaining cognitive and emotional distance from them if we no longer wish to be held under their spell.

This is a radical departure from where most therapies in the modern mold take men. In standard practice the agenda of the therapist is usually to drive the client toward reliving trauma or loss and articulating the feelings that surround those things.

While practitioners with men need to have the skills to comfortably handle emotional upheaval when it happens, the objective is to help the client gain more distance from the inner turmoil, affording them an opportunity for practical, rational solutions.

How else, for instance, can a man stop acting sacrificially with women, until he rejects the sacrificial role? And to reject that role, he must be able to see it from a more objective distance, in practical terms. Men rarely need assistance to realize they are in emotional hell with a woman. They often stay silently immersed in it, entangled hopelessly in trying to find solutions that are not forthcoming.

While an exploration of childhood trauma, abusive parenting and unresolved grief may provide more insight into current life troubles, it will not provide what the client needs most. A path out.

Externalizing a narrative, depersonalizing it, helps us to see it as separate from our own self-image, perhaps for the first time. By abstracting the story and dissociating from it we can more easily edit its details and gain mastery: the narrative no longer has us – we have it.

The therapeutic practice of externalizing narratives has a long history beginning with Freud’s talking cure, Carl Jung’s ‘active imagination‘ to James Hillman’s practice of ‘seeing through narratives‘, and on to newer practices such as Narrative psychology and Narrative therapy.

None of the aforementioned, however, have actively applied the technique to the stories men live by – a shameful oversight for therapies claiming to plumb the depths of human experience.

The life of men has heretofore been shrouded in a cloud of repression, amnesia and denial, ironically aided and abetted by the very psychologists called to lift the lid on that repression.

While some have claimed to help men raise consciousness, what in most instances has happened is therapists adding yet more layers of faulty text to an already burdensome set of male narratives. Narrative Therapy with Men aims to reverse the tradition of neglect.

  1. Problematizing the narrative

A core tenet of Narrative Therapy with Men is that Men are not the problem, the narrative is the problem.

We view this approach to be corrective on its face. Men are universally saddled with the artifacts of a faulty narrative. Whether that is driven by a failure to be heroic or successful enough to fulfill historic male expectations, or whether it is the more modernized narrative of toxic masculinity, or both, men typically see themselves as the source of the problem.

Continually failing to fix themselves, which their narrative does not allow them to do, aggravates the situation all the more.

Portions of a given narrative may be destructive and other parts may not, which a joint, detached exploration can discover. It can lead to a discarding of the dysfunctional parts and a retention of those parts retaining value and importance to individual men.

It is as simple as keeping what works and tossing out what doesn’t, which is easier said than done. We view the main obstacle to that, though, as a lack of detachment.

For instance, shame can be a huge impediment. A man can see a problem, but without detachment, his experience of shame can drive him to deny, minimize and avoid the problem. Until, of course, the problem rears its head, causes pain, and the cycle starts all over again.

The only way, we argue, to interrupt that, is through healthy detachment.

An Ear for Men has detailed numerous examples of destructive narratives for men, such as the belief that men are inherently flawed, that they belong to and benefit from Patriarchy, that they must ignore their health to be worthy of relationships, or that their role in life is to serve women in one capacity or another while denying their own needs and value.

To these the new therapy for men applies the razor, surgically removing criticisms of men and replacing them with narratives of self-worth. And, importantly, it allows men the use of their logic and reason to guide the surgery, not their emotional reaction to the problem.

  1. Exploring potential new narratives

Life does not tolerate a void. That is why isolating problem narratives and the work of deleting them runs concurrent with a process of re-narration. In this a therapist and client can be imagined as co-authors working on a novel, where therapist co-writes or ghost-writes a new narrative, running a red pen though all the toxic text.

The new text can be literally anything the client dreams up. The practitioner consults with the client, offers observations, but otherwise gets out of the way and allows the client to have the lead role in the creative aspects of the process.

Narratives men adopt to break free from limiting expectations need not be reduced to reactions against the original problem-riddled narrative, which places the response into a narrow formula of thesis and antithesis. An example of that approach is seen in the tendency of some men to replace misandric narratives with misogynistic narratives. Or, perhaps, men who have been sexually rejected who seek to correct with sexual conquests.

An example of narratives structured along the lines of antithetical reactions vs. more liberating and proactive possibilities was elaborated in an earlier article at An Ear for Men, titled Values-based approach to gynocentrism for men. There we are given the example of three narratives:

1. A gynocentric narrative in need of deletion
2. An anti-gynocentric reactive narrative, and
3. A proactive narrative which transcends the for-and-against-gynocentrism binary

 

  1. Nailing down a narrative

The goal of the new narrative is to serve as a values-centered approach to dealing with self and world.

This part can be somewhat tricky. Values, or what we consider good and bad, right and wrong, purposeful or meaningless, are by necessity a product of our narrative. And they can be as destructive as the narrative itself.

For instance, you can ask a man to tell you about his values. He might tell you that among them are honesty and integrity. So far, so good. But he may also follow that up by saying his values drive him to sacrifice for the benefit of a woman, that a real man takes care of women and shields them from hardship.

The problem with that, as may be apparent, is that millions of men have led themselves to misery, ruin, and even to death, with precisely these values. It is not that their intent is flawed but that they have allowed values for which they have no conscious etiology to put them behind the wheel with a blindfold on, mindless of any values that might have addressed their self-preservation.

Again, a detached review of values, and how they stem from personal narrative is a necessity.

A values-centered ideology is established and articulated by the client at some time during the process of consultations. He may already have his core values clarified and will want to proceed with a narrative that honors them. Alternatively, he may feel his values have been implanted from without or inherited without consent, foreign objects that have brought harm to his health and wellbeing and so seeks to construct a new set of values and an accompanying life script that will do them justice. This can all be done with a practitioner, or simply on a man’s own volition, or with a trusted friend.

______________

That, then is a brief outline of Narrative Therapy with Men. It is not intended to be complete, and is indeed still a nascent approach to working with men. The psychological disciplines, as mentioned earlier, have hinted at this approach, have skirted the ideas contained here but without breaching the sacred wall of feminized psychology.

Now we set about the work of expanding on these ideas and calling on others to do the same.

 

References:

[1] “The way we tell our story is the way we form our therapy” is a quote from Patricia Berry’s essay ‘An Approach To The Dream,’ Spring Journal of Archetype and Culture (1974).

See also:

A new psychology for men
Authoring your own life
Playing your own role in life
A values-centered approach for men

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Damseling, chivalry and courtly love (part two)

The following article is the second of a two-part series. Part one looked at the roots of damseling, chivalry and courtly love in the gynocentric tradition. In part two we look at damseling, chivalry and courtly love as it appears in modern feminism. – PW

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FEMINISM

Before being given the name feminism, the obsession with women’s status was referred to as the Querelle des Femmes or quarrel about women. The querelle consisted of a perpetual social movement that used damseling to call for more courtly love, and more chivalry, which ultimately gave women more power.

The three elements of gynocentrism first born in medieval Europe continue to act as the basis of modern feminism. Indeed feminism today is little more, and little less, than a perpetuation of this medieval triad, giving feminism its internal drive even as feminists disavow these essentials with rhetorical obfuscations.

With this charge in mind let’s revisit the holy trinity above with a focus on behaviors central to modern feminism.

Damseling as “victim feminism”

Most observers today, including feminist observers like Christina Hoff-Sommers, Camille Paglia, Rene Denfeld, Katie Roiphe and others agree that feminism comes close, if not all the way, to being a cult of victimhood.

The phenomenon has variously been referred to as grievance feminism, victim feminism, safe space feminism, and even fainting-couch feminism – with Christina Hoff-Sommers portraying its mythos as “a battle between fragile maidens and evil predators.” 1

Feminist icon Naomi Wolf tells that victim feminism evolved out of “old habits of ladylike behavior that were cloaked in the guise of radicalism,” 2 and laments that a substantial segment of modern feminism is devoted to its cause.

Denfeld writes that current feminists “promote a new status for women: that of the victim,” and adds:

“This is victim mythology. From rape redefinitions to feminist theory on the “patriarchy,” victimization has become the subtext of the movement, the moral to be found in every feminist story. Together these stories form a feminist mythology in which a singular female subject is created: woman as a helpless, violated, and oppressed victim. Victim mythology says that men will always be predators and women will always be their prey. It is a small place to live, a place that tells women that there is really no way out.

“Like other mythologies, victim mythology reduces the complexity of human interaction to grossly oversimplified mythical tales, a one-note song, where the message of the story becomes so important that fiction not only triumphs over fact but the realities of women’s experiences are dismissed and derided when they conflict with the accepted female image.3

While Denfeld does a good job of describing feminism’s victim mentality, she labors under a myth of her own by characterizing it as a “new” fetish among feminists. Anyone reading through the history of feminist literature can see it appealed to by literally every feminist writer. Even a century ago Ernest Belfort Bax was able to say that feminists “do their best to bluff their dupes by posing as the victims of a non-existent male oppression.”4

Feminists well know that the most grotesquely far-fetched cry about the injustice of man to woman will meet with a ready ear. They well know that they get here fond and foolish man on his soft side. Looking at the matter impartially, it is quite evident that man’s treatment of woman is the least vulnerable point in his moral record. Woman, as such, he has always treated with comparative generosity. But it is, of course, to the interests of the abettors of female domination to pretend the contrary. Accordingly everything has been done to excite prejudice in favour of woman as the innocent and guileless victim of man’s tyranny, and the maudlin Feminist sentiment of the “brute” man has been carefully exploited to this end.5

In all of these accounts the behavior being described is damseling, a practice feminists have been at the forefront of preserving from the medieval canon. Evoked in conjunction with claims of male brutality, rapiness, depravity and insensitivity, the ultimate purpose of damseling is to draw chivalric responses from men, a routine Wolf makes clear in her remark that “victim feminism casts women as sexually pure and mystically nurturing, and stresses the evil done to these ‘good’ women as a way to petition for their rights.” 6

A famous example of feminist damseling, both literal and figurative, is Anita Sarkeesian. Sarkeesian is known for raising concerns that video-games are misogynistic – like most everything else found in the feminist worldview. Her primary concern was that female game characters are often portrayed as damsels-in-distress saved by male heroes, which promotes, she says, sexual objectification and a range of other problems. To address that issue in video games she moved to launch a study project to raise awareness.

Sarkeesian established a fundraiser for $6,000.00 for her project, but after receiving some initial trolling by trolls on social media she damseled herself to potential donors by saying she was under grave threat, swooning with such finesse that she was showered with 158K in donations from fellow feminists and white knights. Over a thousand people donated after hearing of her “plight.”

With that financial success, Sarkeesian subsequently replayed the scenario over and again particularly in the context of further fundraising efforts and public speaking; swooning about online attacks directed against her or over female gamers enduring abject sexism, female video-game characters being cast in degrading and/or humiliating roles, and about young impressionable girls being robbed of agency after being subjected to the damsel trope in games.

Sarkeesian’s case is particularly poignant because, from the many subjects she could have highlighted to damsel herself for attention, she chose to damsel herself over the very existence of damsels. This demonstrates that even when disavowing the medieval pageant of damsels in distress, feminists continue to enact it even while obfuscating their complicity in the tradition.

Feminism would have died out long ago if it were not for the power of this ancient ruse, and while damseling continues to draw rewards from a public primed to cater to it, the planet will increasingly come to resemble a tower full of imprisoned, vulnerable Disney Princesses.

Chivalry – from husband Sam to Uncle Sam

Equity feminist Christina Hoff-Sommers states that men need to be civilized with chivalric manners, a belief outlined in an interview with Emily Esfahani Smith, where she said, “Chivalry is grounded in a fundamental reality that defines the relationship between the sexes,” and adding a warning, “If women give up on chivalry, it will be gone.” 7

While feminists like Hoff-Sommers admit their reliance on a sexist version of chivalry, others are less candid about it, going even so far as pretending they don’t need chivalry despite their demonstrable appeal to it in most of their activism. Many observers however can see through the anti-chivalry posturing.

Feminism draws its power from chivalric support, but instead of soliciting it from men in the traditional, interpersonal manner it has learned how to get it solely from the government – holding the government to ransom ever since the suffragettes damsaled the vote for women. Since that time politicians have only been too willing to furnish demands by feminists in exchange for voting the candidate into power and allowing him to retain office – and conversely politicians who fail to uphold the chivalric contract are promptly voted out.

The results of this compact are obvious to anyone who looks at political decisions with impartiality.

Instead of men giving up seats in buses, government now provides seats in legislative assemblies and boardrooms via quotas. Instead of men opening car doors for women, government opens doors into universities and workforces via affirmative action. Instead of men being the sole protectors of women from violence, government now protects them with an army of police specially trained to service women’s accusations (over and above more serious crimes). Instead of men providing living expenses, governments now provide it as social welfare and compensation for the wage-gap. Government as substitute husband.

The appeal to chivalry is not confined to government institutions alone. The appeal also goes out to sporting clubs, business owners, CEOs and private institutions who respond to the damsel’s call with women-only busses, women-only safe spaces, pink car parking spaces with extra lighting and security with male escorts and chaperones, or with feminist adverts at sports venues, sportsmen wearing pink to raise money for all manner of feminist projects, and that on top of monies already heaped at their feet by politicians eager to please.

This is not a recent development; it can be witnessed in mirror image as far back as a century ago. Back then, Bax was able to tie feminism so definitively with the act of chivalry-seeking that he actually labeled the women’s liberation movement “chivalry feminism.” Moreover, Bax saw through the superficial disavowals;

“The justification for the whole movement of Modern Feminism in one of its main practical aspects – namely, the placing of the female sex in the position of privilege, advantage and immunity – is concentrated in the current conception of “chivalry.”

It is plain then that chivalry as understood in the present day really spells sex privilege and sex favouritism pure and simple, and that any attempts to define the term on a larger basis, or to give it a colourable rationality founded on fact, are simply subterfuges, conscious or unconscious, on the part of those who put them forward…

Such is “chivalry” as understood to-day – the deprivation, the robbery from men of the most elementary personal rights in order to endow women with privileges at the expense of men.8

Chivalry feminism today, same as it ever was, relying on men’s generosity to perpetuate its creed of power.

Courtly love as ‘Respectful Relationships’

The phrase ‘Respectful Relationships’ is shorthand for a range of conventions promoted by feminists to govern interactions between men and women, particularly in the context of romantic interactions. The conventions detail acceptable speech and actions in the contexts of socializing, friendship, flirting and sex, emphasizing a man’s duty to respect women’s emotional comfort, self-esteem, and dignity.

Portrayed overtly as a method of reducing men’s abusiveness, the program maintains that even men and boys who do not display abusive behaviors should be enculturated in its protocols as a prophylactic, and concomitantly to afford dignity and self-esteem to women. This is where the respectful relationships program moves past the overt goal of reducing violence and into the covert goal of maintaining and increasing the power of women.

As we begin to look at the detail of Respectful Relationship we could almost mistake it for Andreas Capellanus’ work The Art of Courtly Love where the medieval rules of romance were codified in meticulous prescriptions for male deference, homage, and courtesy toward women. Considering this parallel, the feminist movement appears to have provided a new language for a very old set of sexual customs, essentially reiterating that which has been with us all along.

As mentioned in Part one, central to the art of courtly love was the expectation that men practice love service toward women based on a model of vassals or serfs in relation to a feudal lord. That relationship model of serf-to-Lord was adopted wholesale to regulate love relationships whereby women were literally approached as the lord (midons) in each male-female encounter. As Medievalist Sandra Alfonsi explains;

Scholars soon saw striking parallels between feudalistic practices and certain tenets of Courtly Love. The comparisons lie in certain resemblances shared by vassalage and the courtly “love service.” Fundamental to both was the concept of obedience. As a vassal, the liegeman swore obedience to his lord. As a courtly lover, the poet chose a lady to whom he was required to swear obedience. Humility and obedience were two concepts familiar to medieval man, active components of his Weltanschauung…

The entire concept of love-service was patterned after the vassal’s oath to serve his lord with loyalty, tenacity, and courage. These same virtues were demanded of the poet. Like the liegeman vis-a-vis his sovereign, the poet approached his lady with fear and respect. Submitted to her, obedient to her will, he awaited a fief or honor as did the vassal. His compensation took many forms: the pleasure of his lady’s company in her chamber or in the garden; an avowal of her love; a secret meeting; a kiss or even le surplus, complete unity. Like the lord, the woman who was venerated and served was expected to reward her faithful and humble servant.9

The idea behind love service was that men should demonstrate the quality of their commitment to women; was it merely lust or obedient and sacrificial love? If the woman decided it was “love” then she might decide to engage more intimately with him, as Joseph Campbell explains:

“The woman is looking for authenticity in a relationship, so she delays merci until she is guaranteed that this man who is proposing himself to her is one of a gentle heart… And, the women were in control, that’s all there is to it. The man is the one who is advancing, the one performing the acts of guarding bridges, or whatever bit of foolishness she puts on him, but, she’s in control. And her problem is to live in a relationship that is authentic of love, and the only way she can do it is by testing the one who offers himself. She isn’t offering herself, he’s offering himself. But, she’s in control of what happens then with step two.10

“The technical term for a woman’s granting of herself was merci; the woman grants her merci. Now, that might consist in her permission for the man to kiss her on the back of the neck once every Whitsuntide, you know, something like that – or it may be a full giving in love. That would depend upon her estimation of the character of the candidate. The essential idea was to test this man to make sure that he would suffer things for love, and that this was not just lust.

The tests that were given then by women involved, for example, sending a chap out to guard a bridge. The traffic in the Middle Ages was somewhat encumbered by these youths guarding bridges. But also the tests included going into battle. A woman who was too ruthless in asking her lover to risk a real death before she would acquiesce in anything was considered sauvage or “savage”. Also, the woman who gave herself without the testing was “savage”. There was a very nice psychological estimation game going on here.11

Today that psychological estimation game (as Campbell puts it) might involve asking consent to sit with a woman, appealing politely for a date, waiting patiently for her to call or sweep right, keeping his knees together to avoid manspreading, or asking for permission to speak in order to prove he is not talking over her or mansplaining. Such demonstrations show the feminist woman that he has a gentle heart, and that he is willing to suffer things for love.

That psychological testing also encompasses public activities which demonstrate a man’s commitment to serving womankind as a whole. Examples would be a man walking a mile in her shoes, or joining White Ribbon Campaigns that require men, as was required of the medieval knights, to pledge oaths to “Never to condone, or remain silent about violence towards women and girls” and especially to intervene when learning of any male behaving offensively toward a woman.

Today’s White Ribbon “oath” bears a striking resemblance to the 14th century enterprise of the Green Shield with the White Lady (Emprise de l’Escu vert à la Dame Blanche) in which men committed themselves for the duration of five years to serving women. Inspired by the ideal of courtly love, the stated purpose of the order was to guard and defend the honor, estate, goods, reputation, fame and praise of all ladies. It was an undertaking that earned the praise of protofeminist Christine de Pizan. The continuity of chivalry and courtly love from the medieval knightly oath to the modern feminist-inspired oath is remarkable in its consistency.

In line with most women who expect men to follow medieval rules of love concerning male courtesy, the feminist movement is geared toward enforcing the same goal. Feminism however postures itself as disavowing that goal even while they are at the forefront of institutionalizing it in our families, our schools, our political structures and laws.

Each of the psychological tests mentioned above are evidence of a love service called for by feminist activists. Or worded differently, they are sanctified methods by which men are called to demonstrate obedience and a ‘gentle heart’ in contrast to the brutality, rapiness and exploitativeness of the savage heart; the default feminist conception of men.

I will close here with the words of an academic feminist, one not so coy about identifying courtly love with the project of feminism. Elizabeth Reid Boyd of the School of Psychology and Social Science at Edith Cowan University, and Director of the Centre for Research for Women in Western Australia with more than a decade as a feminist researcher and teacher of women’s studies tells:

In this article I muse upon arguments that romance is a form of feminism. Going back to its history in the Middle Ages and its invention by noblewomen who created the notion of courtly love, examining its contemporary popular explosion and the concurrent rise of popular romance studies in the academy that has emerged in the wake of women’s studies, and positing an empowering female future for the genre, I propose that reading and writing romantic fiction is not only personal escapism, but also political activism.

Romance has a feminist past that belies its ostensible frivolity. Romance, as most true romantics know, began in medieval times. The word originally referred to the language romanz, linked to the French, Italian and Spanish languages in which love stories, songs and ballads were written. Stories, poems and songs written in this language were called romances to separate them from more serious literature – a distinction we still have today. Romances were popular and fashionable. Love songs and stories, like those of Lancelot and Guinevere, Tristan and Isolde, were soon on the lips of troubadours and minstrels all over Europe. Romance spread rapidly. It has been called the first form of feminism (Putnam 1970).12

Reid Boyd finishes her paper by waxing poetic about the many joys of romantic love, and of its increasing popularity in academe.

Same as it ever was, the project of modern feminism can be summarized as championing victimhood (damseling), soliciting favors from men and governments (chivalry), and promoting “respectful” relationships by men-toward-women (courtly love).

References:

[1] Christina Hoff-Sommers, How fainting couch feminism threatens freedom, American Enterprise Institute 2015
[2] Naomi Wolf, Fire With Fire: New Female Power, 1993
[3] Rene Denfeld, The New Victorians: A Young Woman’s Challenge to the Old Feminist Order, 1995
[4] Ernest B. Bax, Feminism and Female Suffrage, 1910
[5] Ernest B. Bax, Mr. Belfort Bax Replies to his Feminist Critics, 1908
[6] Naomi Wolf, Fire With Fire: New Female Power, 1993
[7] Emily Esfahani Smith, Let’s Give Chivalry Another Chance, The Atlantic, Dec 10 2012
[8] Ernest B. Bax, Chapter-5 ‘The Chivalry Fake’ in The Fraud of Feminism, 1913
[9] Sandra Alfonsi, Masculine Submission in Troubadour Lyric, 1986
[10] Joseph Campbell, Parzival, the Graal, and Grail Legends, talk at the Ojai Foundation, 1987
[11] Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, interview with Bill Moyers, 1988
[12] Elizabeth Reid Boyd, Romancing Feminism: From Women’s Studies to Women’s Fiction, 2014

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Damseling, chivalry and courtly love (part one)

This article is the first of a two-part series looking at the roots of damseling, chivalry and courtly love as fundamentals in the gynocentric tradition. Part two will look at damseling, chivalry and courtly love as it appears in contemporary feminism. – PW

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GYNOCENTRISM

The dominant features of gender relations today come from old Europe in the forms of damseling, chivalry and courtly-love. Together they form the customs, in fact the essence, of modern gynocentric culture.

This holy trinity was crafted into a system of deportment by 12th century French and German aristocrats, setting a trend that spread to all the aristocratic courts of Europe. From those lofty parlors it filtered into popular culture, being transported eventually to the new world on the wings of colonial expansion.

The principle modes of transmission were expositions from upper class men and women; troubadour performances; plays; and notably a new genre of literature referred to as romance literature in which knights were celebrated for saving damsels in distress, and male lovers endured tortuous and trial-ridden tests in an attempt to secure a love bond with a beloved lady.

Nine hundred years later and romance novels remain the largest selling literature genre in the world, and we equally see the obsession with damseling and chivalry which dominate our politics, our societies, and our conversations over the dinner table.

In what follows, each of these gynocentric pillars and their historical roots will be summarized, along with references to the biological imperatives that give them their internal drive. Lastly (in part 2) an argument will be made that feminism today is nothing more, and nothing less, than a perpetuation of this medieval triad.

Let’s take a closer look at these three elements.

Damseling

Damseling is a popular shorthand for women’s projection of themselves as damsels in distress, regardless of whether the distress and the reasons for it are real or manufactured.

An excellent overview of damseling and its history was posted on Reddit in 2014 by author LemonMcAlister:

We hear a lot about the “Damsel in Distress” trope and how it is both uncreative and damaging to women as a whole. The idea that a woman needs to be rescued by a valiant hero is held up as a sexist concept created by men who view women merely as a prize to be won.

Would you be surprised if I told you this trope actually has a heavily feminist origin?

In order to explain this, we’ll need to go back in time about 1,000 years. In Medieval Europe, this was a time of rampant violence and wars with no other goal than material gain. Even long before the First Crusade, popular fiction took the form of heroic songs and epic poems much like Beowulf. They were sung in great halls and appealed mainly to a very masculine audience.

One thing many people are surprised to hear is that early legends and stories of King Arthur are exceedingly violent, gory, and action packed. Knights routinely have their head split to the shoulders, warriors are killed on almost every page, and there is even a giant who has his testicles sliced off in a fight.

The common understanding of Arthurian legend, however, is one of chivalry and courtly love. Knights fight for their ladies and for God. Love and romance is considered by most people to be a major part of the Arthurian stories.

The truth, however, is that this emphasis on love and romance, the idea that knights would fight to rescue a lady from a villain, is a later addition and was promoted by someone who can undeniably be called a feminist.

Eleanor of Aquitaine, born somewhere around 1123, was, as Wikipedia calls her, “one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in western Europe during the High Middle Ages”. She is well known for doing many “unlady-like” things such as taking up the cross for the second crusade, recruiting women from her court to accompany her, and personally leading her own army as a feudal lord.

What’s important here is that she is also responsible for the major and dramatic shift in the themes of popular fiction. Chrétien de Troyes, a poet of the late 12th century, is probably the most well-known writer dealing with this new type of Arthurian story. Some of these stories, in fact, were written for Eleanor’s daughter, Marie de Champagne.

Emphasis was no longer placed on Arthur nor did these stories focus on a thoroughly manly knight’s ability to split skulls. Arthur himself is used as a bit of a background decoration and is essentially a kindly old king that rules over his kingdom but doesn’t take much of an active part in the stories.

The focus of the stories was on love, romance, and the concept that chivalry should emphasize a knight’s utter devotion to his lady. Women also became more powerful. Far from being a prize to be won, they often helped their knights in one very important way or another.

In these stories, which are vastly different from earlier popular fiction, the love of a lady was the highest prize a knight could win, short of divine favor.

As society continued to change and we emerged from the dark ages, the stories remained immensely popular. There was no longer a need for savage and brutal warriors who could slaughter legions of people. Society’s focus was on cultural ideals such as courtly love, romance, and the chivalric service of ladies.

My point here is that the original Arthurian stories, and essentially all popular fiction of the time, treated women as nothing more than a means to social, economic, and political advancement. The stories hardly ever included women and those that were present never played a significant role in the narrative.

It wasn’t until Eleanor’s reign, and the influence she had on popular fiction, that we see the development of the “Damsel in Distress” trope. This trope, however, was created because it appealed to women. It was an effort to include women in the enjoyment of popular fiction and marked a major change in society’s values.

No longer were women merely an object, they were the entire motivation. No longer were they seen as merely a means to an end, they were the very focus of the story itself.

The “Damsel in Distress” trope is far from a misogynistic effort to treat women as prizes and is actually a result of the increased power and influence women were gaining during Eleanor’s reign. It has continued to remain a popular story telling device because it appeals to both sexes by presenting an idealized view, both of society and what a hero’s motivation should be.

The hero rescues the woman, placing himself in mortal danger, for love and love alone. Had we remained with the male dominated form of story-telling, the hero would rescue the damsel because marrying her would allow him to muster a larger army with which he could violently murder his chosen enemies. The woman’s desire to be married to the hero would not factor into the equation at all.

Damsels are in distress because there is an extremely high value placed on them and they are, in many ways, the entire motivation for the hero and the story itself. The hero rescues the damsel because he is motivated by love, not by a desire to possess a prize.

The trials he goes through are tests not of his strength and masculinity but of his overpowering love for the damsel.

The damsel is, in other words, far more important than the hero.

As indicated in that summary, the chief goal of damseling is to evoke chivalric behaviors in men. The biological drive underpinning it is our urge to protect and provide for children, behavior which is triggered by juvenile characteristics such as a rounded forehead, large eyes, and most importantly helplessness.

As elaborated in a previous article, women have been taught from generation to generation to mimic juvenile characteristics via the use of makeup and vocal tonations, along with a feigning of distress typical of children — which collectively works to extract utility from men. While woman are capable of solving most of their own problems and providing for their own needs and wants, many have cultivated a posture of helplessness,  damseling their way out of doing the dirty, dangerous or stressful work required to achieve those goals.

Why exert yourself when men can be manipulated to do it for you?

Chivalry

Different definitions have been attached to the word chivalry throughout history. To make matters more confusing, encyclopedic overviews tend to blend those different meanings into an ungainly synthesis, making the job of teasing out distinctive meanings more difficult.

While there are differing definitions, the most common use of the term today is the one we need to describe. That job is made easy by modern dictionaries in which chivalry is given two separate and radically different definitions – a contemporary definition and an archaic, largely obsolete one:

► 1. very polite, honorable, and generous behaviour, especially by men towards women
► 2. the system of behaviour followed by knights in the medieval period of history, that put a high value on honour, knightly skill, and martial valor.1

The first is the definition we are concerned with here. To be sure, chivalry has been a woman-centered enterprise for close to a millennium, and early accounts such as that by Walter Scott in the year 1818 render the meaning clear:

“The main ingredient in the spirit of Chivalry, second in force only to the religious zeal of its professors, and frequently predominating over it, was a devotion to the female sex, and particularly to her whom each knight selected as the chief object of his affection, of a nature so extravagant and unbounded as to approach to a sort of idolatry.

“Amid the various duties of knighthood, that of protecting the female sex, respecting their persons, and redressing their wrongs, becoming the champion of their cause, and the chastiser of those by whom they were injured, was represented as one of the principal objects of the institution. Their oath bound the new-made knights to defend the cause of all women without exception ; and the most pressing way of conjuring them to grant a boon was to implore it in the name of God and the ladies. The cause of a distressed lady was, in many instances, preferable to that even of the country to which the knight belonged.

“The defence of the female sex in general, the regard due to their honour, the subservience paid to their commands, the reverent awe and courtesy, which, in their presence, forbear all unseemly words and actions, were so blended with the institution of Chivalry as to form its very essence. But it was not enough that the “very perfect, gentle knight,” should reverence the fair sex in general. It was essential to his character that he should select, as his proper choice, “a lady and a love,” to be the polar star of his thoughts, the mistress of his affections, and the directress of his actions. In her service, he was to observe the duties of loyalty, faith, secrecy, and reverence. Without such an empress of his heart, a knight, in the phrase of the times, was a ship without a rudder, a horse without a bridle, a sword without a hilt ; a being, in short, devoid of that ruling guidance and intelligence, which ought to inspire his bravery, and direct his actions.

Note the references to protecting the female sex and of redressing their wrongs as hallmarks of chivalry, with men going even so far as to believe the cause of a distressed lady is preferable to that of the nation to which he belonged.

But that protection, provision and adoration is only one half the story — the other half being fulfilled by the damsel in distress. The damsel represents the vulnerable and needy child who pulls on parental heartstrings, behavior provoking the parental brain state referred to by neurobiologists. Chivalry is shorthand for the parental brain state by which men are moved to protect, provide for and adore an adult disguised as a child.

Courtly love

Courtly love, which was later called romantic love, is the program of cultivating deference of men toward women. It was born as a twofold movement beginning with a social shaming of men for bad behaviors, followed by a proposal that men could atone for bad behavior by worship of women through a new code of love.

The idea was launched by powerful women of the medieval aristocracy who cited the worst behaviors of the most unruly males and extrapolated those behaviors to the entire gender. Knights were particularly singled out – much like today’s sporting heroes who display some kind of faux pas – and used as examples of distasteful male behavior requiring the remedy of sweeping cultural reform.

During that time of (supposedly) unruly males, uneducated squires were said to ride mangy horses into mess halls, and rude young men diverted eyes from psalters in the very midst of mass. Among the knights and in the atmosphere of tournaments occasional brawls with grisly incidents occurred – a cracked skull, a gouged eye – as the betting progressed and the dice flew. Male attention to clothing and fashion was said to be appalling, with men happy to go about in sheep and fox skins instead of clothes fashioned of rich and precious stuffs, in colours to better suit them in the company of ladies. And perhaps worst of all were their lack of refinement and manners toward women which was considered reprehensible.

The solutions to the ‘male problem’ was posed by the French Countess Marie, daughter of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. Historian Amy Kelly tells;

“Marie organized the rabble of soldiers, fighting-cocks, jousters, springers, riding masters, troubadours, Poitevin nobles and debutantes, young chatelaines, adolescent princes, and infant princesses in the great hall of Poitiers. Of this pandemonium the countess fashioned a seemly and elegant society, the fame of which spread to the world. Here was a woman’s assize to draw men from the excitements of the tilt and the hunt, from dice and games, to feminine society, an assize to outlaw boorishness and compel the tribute of adulation to female majesty.”2

Marie was among the first of a long line of reformers to usher in a gynocentrism whose aim was to convince men of their shared flaws and to prescribe romantic love and concomitant worship of females as the remedy. The remedy was referred to as love service.

Love service involved the positioning of women as men’s superiors along with a series of prescribed behaviors for demonstrating the sexual hierarchy in male-female interactions. The meta-rules for those interactions can be found in troubadour poetry and in the book The Art of Courtly Love by Andreas Capellanus, who wrote it under direction from Marie in 1188 AD.

The love service at the core of courtly love replicates feudal relations between vassals or serfs and their overlords. The feudal template was transferred wholesale into love relationships whereby each women came to be approached as a quasi ‘lord’ in each male-female relationship.

Sandra Alfonsi elaborated the feudalistic elements of courtly love in her book Masculine Submission in Troubadour Lyric:

The troubadours lived and functioned within a society based on feudalism. Certain ones were themselves feudal lords; others were liegemen dependent on such lords for their sustinence. The troubadours who were members of the clergy were also actively involved in this feudal society. It is only natural that their literature reflect some traits of the age in which it was created. Scholars soon saw striking parallels between feudalistic practices and certain tenets of Courtly Love. The comparisons lie in certain resemblances shared by vassalage and the courtly “love service.” Fundamental to both was the concept of obedience. As a vassal, the liegeman swore obedience to his lord. As a courtly lover, the poet chose a lady to whom he was required to swear obedience. Humility and obedience were two concepts familiar to medieval man, active components of his Weltanschauung. Critics, such as Erich Kohler, have found them exhibited in both the life and literature of that time.

The entire concept of love-service was patterned after the vassal’s oath to serve his lord with loyalty, tenacity, and courage. These same virtues were demanded of the poet. Like the liegeman vis-a-vis his sovereign, the poet approached his lady with fear and respect. Submitted to her, obedient to her will, he awaited a fief or honor as did the vassal. His compensation took many forms: the pleasure of his lady’s company in her chamber or in the garden; an avowal of her love; a secret meeting; a kiss or even le surplus, complete unity. Like the lord, the woman who was venerated and served was expected to reward her faithful and humble servant.

The similarities between courtly service and vassalage are indeed striking. Although of a more refined character than an ordinary vassal, the poet-lover is portrayed as his lady’s liegeman, involved in the ceremony of homage and pictured at the moment of the immixtio manuum. His reward for faithful service will doubtlessly include the osculum.

The influence of feudalism upon courtly love was, in my opinion, twofold: it provided the poets with a well-organized system of service after which they might pattern their own; it furnished them with a highly developed vocabulary centered around the service owed by a vassal to a lord. Feudalistic vocabulary was comprised of certain basic terminology indicative of the ties which legally bound a man to his lord in times of peace and war.3

Evolutionary Psychologist Don A. Monson paints a similar picture

This configuration of unequal power is the central feature of the poet-lover’s positioning of himself with regard to the love object. Drawing on the stratification and class-consciousness of medieval society, the canso describes primarily in terms of social hierarchy the woman’s psycho-sexual power to determine the outcome of the relationship. Thus the troubadour’s lady is regularly portrayed in terms denoting aristocracy, such as ‘‘noble’’ rica, franca or ‘‘high born’’ de bon aire, de aut paratge, whereas the poet stresses his own subordination, describing himself as ‘‘humble’’ umil, umelian, ‘‘submissive’’ aclin, and ‘‘obedient’’ obedien. The culmination of this tendency is one of the most pervasive images of troubadour poetry, the ‘‘feudal metaphor,’’ which compares the relationship of the lover and his lady to that which obtains between a vassal and his lord.

The poet-lover presents himself to his lady in an attitude of feudal homage omenatge, ‘‘kneeling’’ a/degenolhos with ‘‘hands clasped’’ mans jonchas. He declares himself to be his lady’s ‘‘man’’ ome or ‘‘liege man’’ ome lige and refers to the lady as his ‘‘lord’’ senhor, midons. He asks her to ‘‘retain’’ retener him as her ‘‘servant’’ ser, servidor or to take him into her ‘‘service’’ servizi. According to a military variant of the feudal metaphor, the lover ‘‘surrenders’’ se rendre to the lady, declaring himself ‘‘vanquished’’ vencut or ‘‘conquered’’ conques, and asks for her ‘‘mercy’’ merce.4

As described by Alfonsi and Monson, the demands of courtly love bespeak unbalanced power relationships, ones that engender vulnerability in the male supplicant along with an experience of a fragile pair-bonding that hovers in the realm of tantalizing.

In terms of our biological drives, courtly love captures the imperative for a strong, reliable pair-bonding experience, albeit one that remains maddeningly difficult to gain and maintain in the face of the convoluted conventions of courtly love.

The biological and cultural complexity covered above can be summarised in a few short lines;

Damseling is the cultural codification of neoteny.
Chivalry a cultural codification of the parental brain.
Courtly love is the codification of tantalizing pairbonds.

Part two of this series will look at how this holy trinity reappears in feminist ideology and activism.

References:

[1] Combination of Cambridge and Miriam-Webster dictionary definitions.
[2] Amy Kelly, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Her Courts of Love, Source: Speculum, Vol. 12, No. 1
[3] Sandra Alfonsi, Masculine Submission in Troubadour Lyric, 1986
[4] Don A. Monson, Why is la Belle Dame sans Merci?, Neophilologus 2011; 95: 523.

Dragon

Persiguiendo Al Dragón

Por Peter Wright & Paul Elam

Muchos estudiosos de las políticas sexuales plantean la noción “científica” de que nuestra cultura ginocéntrica es una realidad biológica básica, y que tenemos dos opciones: o bien seguimos el programa y disfrutamos, o bien nos retiramos del sistema de manera nihilista.

Una explicación alternativa del superestimulo sugiere que se trata simplemente de una exageración del potencial humano; una exageración que lleva al fracaso social y reproductivo, pese a la sabiduría popular.

El léxico de las biociencias nos puede resultar útil para entenderlo.

EggsPor ejemplo, en el caso de los pájaros hembra, prefieren incubar huevos artificiales de mayor tamaño, en vez de sus propios huevos naturales.

Los huevos grandes y coloridos son un superestímulo. El hecho de dejar desamparados los huevos auténticos es la superrespuesta.

De una forma similar, los seres humanos también son engañados con facilidad por los vendedores de comida basura. Es muy sencillo entrenar a los seres humanos para que elijan productos que provocan enfermedades cardiacas, diabetes y cáncer, en vez de los alimentos nutritivos para cuyo consumo y aprovechamiento han evolucionado; sólo hacen falta unos cuantos trucos con las papilas gustativas y los reflejos de hambre.

El azúcar y los carbohidratos refinados son superestímulos. El consumo de sustancias tóxicas es la superrespuesta.

La idea es que el comportamiento humano saludable evolucionó en respuesta a estímulos normales en el entorno natural de nuestros ancestros. Eso incluye nuestros instintos reproductivos. Esas mismas respuestas de conducta ahora han sido secuestradas por el estímulo supernormal1.

Desde este punto de vista, podemos ver que el superestímulo actúa como una droga potente, perfectamente comparable con la heroína o la cocaína, que imitan sustancias químicas más débiles, como la dopamina, la oxitocina y las endorfinas, todas ellas presente de manera natural en el cuerpo.

Como ocurre con la drogadicción, los efectos de los superestímulos son responsables de toda una serie de obsesiones y fracasos que afectan al hombre moderno: desde la epidemia de la obesidad y la obsesión con la territorialidad hasta los comportamientos destructivos, violentos y suicidas fundamentales en nuestro culto moderno al amor romántico.

Un detalle interesante sobre los superestímulos de los narcóticos artificiales es el fenómeno conocido como “la caza del dragón”. Es un término que surgió en los fumaderos de opio de China, y se refiere a lo que ocurre la primera vez que una persona inhala el vapor del opio. La euforia resultante es absoluta e incluso mágica… la primera vez.

Después, el consumidor intenta recrear ese subidón maravilloso, una y otra vez, con cantidades cada vez mayores de droga. Pero no puede. El cerebro ya se ha acostumbrado a la inundación de opiáceos artificiales. El consumidor se coloca y se vuelve adicto, pero la magia de la primera experiencia es una mariposa esquiva.

Pero la persiguen con todas sus fuerzas, tratando de cazar al dragón sobre el que cabalgaron en su primera experiencia.

Podemos ver un fenómeno similar en los hombres que, en sus relaciones con las mujeres, intentan desesperadamente ser recompensados con amor, sexo y aprobación, mediante el uso de la caballerosidad romántica. Como drogadictos, avanzan por una banda de Möbius, caminan en círculos, persiguiendo al dragón.

En nuestra opinión, no hay duda de cómo se produce esto.

A continuación presentamos tres ejemplos de superestímulos humanos, y cómo se utilizan para desencadenar una superrespuesta destructiva en el hombre.

  1. Neotenia fabricada artificialmente

La neotenia es la retención de las características infantiles en el cuerpo, la voz o los rasgos faciales. En el ser humano, la neotenia activa lo que se conoce como cerebro parental: un estado de la actividad cerebral que fomenta la nutrición y los cuidados. Esa activación se produce mediante el llamado mecanismo de liberación innato.

Un ejemplo clásico de mecanismo de liberación innato es el que tiene lugar cuando los polluelos de gaviota dan picotazos en el pico de sus padres para conseguir comida.

Todas las gaviotas adultas tienen una mancha roja en la parte inferior del pico; cuando la ven los polluelos, se desencadena, o libera, el instinto de darle un picotazo. Se trata del mecanismo de liberación innato.

Seagull

Desde luego, este mecanismo de liberación innato es vital para la supervivencia de las gaviotas, y en todas las especies de aves y de mamíferos (y en cualquier criatura a la que le preocupe su descendencia) existe algo similar. En los mamíferos, el infantilismo es uno de los mecanismos de liberación innatos que determinan, de forma inconsciente, nuestra motivación para proteger y proveer, garantizando así la supervivencia de la especie.

Sin embargo, las características infantiles humanas también se pueden manipular para obtener atenciones y apoyo que sobrepasen con mucho las necesidades de supervivencia.

En concreto, la mujer utiliza la neotenia para conseguir distintas ventajas, un hecho que no pasa desapercibido a la escritora y médica Esther Vilar, que escribe lo siguiente:

“El mayor ideal de la mujer es una vida sin trabajo ni responsabilidades. Pero, ¿quién lleva esa vida, aparte de un niño? Un niño de mirada suplicante, de cuerpo pequeño y gracioso, con hoyuelos, rellenito y de piel clara y tersa; un adulto en miniatura de lo más adorable. Es al niño a quien imita la mujer: su risa fácil, su indefensión, su necesidad de protección. Es necesario cuidar del niño, porque no puede valerse por sí mismo. ¿Y qué especie no cuida instintivamente de su descendencia? Debe hacerlo, si no quiere que la especia se extinga.

Con la ayuda de cosméticos hábilmente aplicados, diseñados para preservar ese preciado aspecto de bebé; con exclamaciones indefensas como “Uuuh” y “Aaah”, que denotan asombro, sorpresa y admiración en una conversación dulce y trivial, la mujer preserva ese aspecto de bebé durante el mayor tiempo posible, para que el mundo siga creyendo en la adorable y dulce niñita que fue antaño, y confía en que el instinto protector del hombre lo obligue a cuidar de ella.”2

Neoteny

El zoólgo Konrad Lorenz descubrió que las imágenes de cabezas redondeadas y con ojos grandes (izquierda) liberan reacciones parentales en un amplio espectro de especies mamíferas, en contraste con las cabezas anguladas y con ojos proporcionalmente más pequeño, que no provocan dichas respuestas.

Comparemos las imágenes de Lorenz de la izquierda con imágenes de maquillaje para los ojos (arriba), hábilmente aplicado por la mujer moderna en busca de amor. Las sombras de ojos, delineadores y rímeles de todos los colores, por no mencionar las horas practicando ante el espejo, abriendo los ojos al máximo y agitando las pestañas; todo está diseñado para estimular y activar los “paleo-reflejos” del espectador.

Los rostros femeninos neoténicos (ojos grandes, gran distancia entre los ojos, nariz pequeña) les resultan más atractivos a los hombres, mientras que los rostros menos neoténicos se consideran los menos atractivos, independientemente de la edad real de la mujer3. Y de todos estos rasgos, los ojos grandes son el indicio neoténico más eficaz4; se trata de una fórmula triunfal que ha sido utilizada en el anime y en los personajes de Disney, exagerando el tamaño de los ojos e infantilizando el rostro de la mujer adulta.

  1. Exageración de las cualidades sexuales

La vestimenta y las posturas corporales que realzan las caderas, los muslos, los traseros y los senos llevan milenios desarrollándose.

El corte, el color y la caída de las prendas; la ropa interior, los corsés, la lencería y los zapatos, sombreros, joyas y otros accesorios nos permitirían realizar un largo estudio sobre la evolución de la moda, y en términos de sexualidad, representan superestímulos diseñados para desatar una sobrecarga de atracción sexual en el espectador.

En relación con el “realzamiento”, resulta muy interesante la aparición de la cirugía plástica, pensada para transformar el cuerpo en un escenario de superestímulos, a veces con resultados grotescos e incluso letales. Esos son los riesgos que se corren y se aceptan al ir en pos de un atractivo sexual aumentado.

Implantes de pecho, implantes de glúteos, rinoplastias, abdominoplastias, lifting facial… todo ello diseñado para aumentar la sexualidad y, aún más importante, aumentar el poder y el control.

  1. Instinto de emparejamiento intensificado artificialmente

Todos hemos escuchado el consejo de la matrona experimentada a las mujeres más jóvenes: “Si les dais vuestro amor incondicionalmente, perderán el interés; privadles de un poco de afecto y los tendréis siempre suplicando que les deis más”.

Hoy en día, este mensaje está tan difundido que se están reutilizando técnicas de adiestramiento de animales para las mujeres que desean controlar las necesidades afectivas de los hombres. En Cómo hacer que tu hombre se comporte en 21 días o menos utilizando los secretos de los adiestradores caninos profesionales, podemos leer lo siguiente:

Attachment-2-small“Un perro siempre se porta mejor cuando quiere que lo alimentes. Después se vuelve un manojo de nervios. Un truco muy conocido para que el perro mantenga su mejor comportamiento consiste en llenar su comedero únicamente hasta la mitad, para que desee más.

Ocurre lo mismo con su hambre de afecto. Mantenlo siempre emocionalmente hambriento de ti, y será más atento y fácil de controlar.”

Por cruel que suene, la privación de afecto, sexo, aprobación y amor se ha convertido en otra herramienta del repertorio femenino de superestímulos, empleados para obtener por la fuerza el servicio del hombre. Es posible que hubiera una época en la que ese servicio se pudiese considerar una respuesta apropiada a un estímulo de supervivencia. Sin embargo, hoy en día ha sido sustituido por superestímulos, y el servicio masculino ha degenerado en una superrespuesta destructiva.

Esta clase de consejos amorosos para mujeres abunda en Internet. Pretenden intensificar el deseo del hombre, de manera que la obtención de un vínculo estable (algo necesario en una relación sana) se convierta en una meta, en un objetivo. Pero el juego de la caballerosidad romántica, como todos los juegos de feria, está amañado. La meta está siempre fuera de nuestro alcance.

La necesidad de amor, aceptación y seguridad del hombre, una necesidad humana básica, se ve frustrada, dejándolo inmerso en un ciclo permanente de privaciones.

De hecho, uno de los principios fundamentales del amor romántico consiste en mantener el vínculo amoroso en un halo de negación prometedora y tentadora, y en mantener al hombre siempre listo para ser manipulado y utilizado.

Tantalus
La palabra tantalizing (“tentador”) proviene de la historia griega de Tántalo. Éste, según nos cuenta la leyenda, ofendió a los dioses. Su castigo consistió en ser colocado en medio de un río, con el agua hasta el cuello. Hacia él se inclinaba un manzano cargado de manzanas rojas y maduras.

Los dioses lo castigaron con una sed y un hambre feroces. Cuando inclinaba la cabeza para saciar la sed, las aguas retrocedían. Del mismo modo, cuando alargaba el brazo para tomar una manzana, la rama ascendía, quedando fuera de su alcance.

Las mujeres son socializadas para tentar a los hombres con la posibilidad de un emparejamiento, para mantener el fruto del amor siempre fuera de su alcance, y para enturbiar aún más las aguas con los dictados de la caballerosidad romántica.

Si quieres ese vínculo de pareja, es decir, si quieres que te tienten más, más te vale recibirla con flores, abrirle la puerta y, evidentemente, pagar la cuenta.

Más te vale estar listo para vivir así el resto de tu vida, exiliado en el río con Tántalo, eternamente sediento y hambriento. Hoy en día, el simple afecto se ha transformado en algo muy complejo, un impulso que ahora está guiado por las costumbres de la caballerosidad romántica, diseñadas para otorgarle el máximo poder a la mujer.

Incluso cuando en principio ya se ha establecido el vínculo de pareja, es posible que te sigan privando de amor, sexo y aprobación como método de control. Puede ser incluso peor después de haberse emparejado que durante el proceso de cortejo.

Ese comportamiento femenino no es un reflejo innato y simple; es un reflejo en el que han sido educadas y socializadas culturalmente. La mayor parte de las niñas dominan el juego de la inclusión y la exclusión, en grupos o con sus amigas, mucho antes de cumplir 10 años, y las meta-normas que han aprendido vuelven a aparecer en los consejos amorosos populares;se trata de normas diseñadas para perturbar la seguridad afectiva de la que nosotros, como seres gregarios, disfrutaríamos en caso de no haber manipulación.

Las normas femeninas resuenan abiertamente a lo largo de todo un género literario:

  • Mantén un aire de misterio.
  • Esfuérzate únicamente al 30%.
  • Haz que sea él quien vaya a ti.
  • No te veas con él sin una semana de antelación.
  • No lo llames nunca, salvo para devolverle su llamada.
  • Nunca respondas inmediatamente a una llamada o a un mensaje.
  • Haz que sea él el que se acerque a ti.
  • No le devuelvas la llamada inmediatamente. Eres una chica solicitada.
  • Finaliza la llamada SIEMPRE a los 15 minutos (aunque no te guste. Así te llamará más).
  • Aunque no estés ocupada, finge que lo estás.

Hemos recopilado estos consejos tras un examen somero de únicamente dos páginas web con consejos amorosos para la mujer. Sin embargo, no son producto de la era de la información. Representan la expresión extensa y codificada de lo que se ha enseñado a las mujeres de generación en generación, desde el surgimiento de la caballerosidad romántica.

Son las bases de un adiestramiento para la obediencia, pensado para programar al hombre caballeroso y romántico; son superestímulos, tremendamente eficaces a la hora de provocar una superrespuesta. En esta caso, la adulación ciega y servil por parte de un hombre débil y poco introspectivo.

El Amor Romántico

El amor romántico se puede reconceptualizar como un conjunto de superestímulos, cuyas distintas facetas conducen a la sobreexcitación del sistema nervioso humano. Esa excitación tiende a perjudicar el bienestar a largo plazo del hombre. Pero el daño no se queda ahí. Nuestro mundo social y familiar se ve rápidamente desintegrado por los excesos y la toxicidad del amor romántico. En cierto modo, el amor romántico se ha convertido en una de las mayores explotaciones anti-humanas de la biología humana que ha conocido nuestra especie.

Para comprender de dónde proviene esto, es necesario examinar sucintamente la historia del amor romántico, antiguamente llamado amor cortés, para así mostrar que en sus comienzos ya se aplicaban esos mismos elementos. Tal y como han expuesto detalladamente nuestros antepasados medievales, la literatura revela la misma neotenia exagerada, la misma exageración de la sexualidad y la misma obsesión con el control del afecto romántico.

Aunque el engaño de la neotenia lleva en funcionamiento desde el antiguo Egipto, como mínimo, con las sombras y delineadores de ojos, esa práctica se popularizó después de que los cruzados descubrieran los cosméticos que se utilizaban en Oriente Medio y los difundieran por toda Europa5. En la Edad Media, las aristócratas europeas utilizaban ampliamente los cosméticos; Francia e Italia eran los centros principales de fabricación de cosméticos, incluidos compuestos estimulantes como la belladona (que en italiano significa “mujer bella”), que hacían que los ojos pareciesen más grandes6.

De este modo, la neotenia, fabricada mediante técnicas artesanales, se convirtió en la herencia cultural de todas las generaciones de muchachas que aprendían (y siguen aprendiendo) el arte de la aplicación y la exhibición del maquillaje, particularmente en los ojos. Tales prácticas probablemente fomentaron los elogios a los ojos femeninos en la poesía trovadoresca, como los que se encuentran en la autobiografía del poeta Ulrich von Liechtenstein, titulada En servicio de las damas. Podemos leer lo siguiente:

“La dama dulce y pura sabe bien cómo reír bellamente, con sus ojos brillantes. Por ello llevo la corona de los nobles placeres, mientras sus ojos se llenan del rocío que asciende desde su puro corazón, con su risa. Inmediatamente quedo herido por Minnie.”

french-corset-humor
La vestimenta también se utilizaba para realzar la sexualidad. Sin embargo, las modas no cambiaron demasiado durante muchísimo tiempo, y su utilidad sexual no se comprendió completamente. El momento en el que se empezó a modificar con mayor frecuencia el estilo de la ropa, además de reconocerse sus múltiples formas de realzar la sexualidad, se puede situar (en opinión de los historiadores de la moda James Laver y Fernand Braudel) en Europa, aproximadamente a mediados del siglo XIV, la época en la que ciertos elementos sexualizados, como la lencería y los corsés, empezaron a cobrar fama7.

La doctora Jane Burns aporta pruebas adicionales sobre el papel de la vestimenta en el empoderamiento sexual de la mujer medieval en su libro Courtly Love Undressed: Reading Through Clothes in Medieval French Culture [“El amor cortés al desnudo: la interpretación de la cultura medieval francesa a través de la vestimenta”]8.

Como se ha mencionado antes, el truco más eficaz del amor romántico era tentar al hombre con la promesa de afecto, un objetivo que permanecía casi completamente inalcanzable. Los relatos de los trovadores dan fe de la agonía esperanzada que afligía al amante varón; el hombre permanecía en una rara especie de purgatorio, esperando algún “consuelo” de su amada.

El juego medieval del amor llegó a su máxima expresión cuando los códigos de conducta romántica animaron a jugar con los extremos de la aceptación y el rechazo. Comparemos la lista anterior de normas amorosas con la siguiente lista de El arte del amor cortés, un manual amoroso muy divulgado durante el siglo XII:

  • El amor es un sufrimiento congénito.
  • El que no siente celos no puede amar.
  • Se sabe que el amor siempre crece o disminuye.
  • El valor de un amor es proporcional a la dificultad de la conquista.
  • El temor es el compañero constante del amor verdadero.
  • Los celos y el deseo de amar siempre crecen al sospechar del amante.
  • Poco duerme y come aquel a quien hacen sufrir sueños de amor.
  • El amante siempre teme que su amor no se gane su deseo.
  • Cuanto mayor sea la dificultad de intercambiar solaces, mayor será el deseo de los mismos, y mayor será el amor.
  • El exceso de oportunidades para verse y para hablar disminuyen el amor9.

La obra más romántica de Shakespeare cuenta la misma historia: Julieta mantiene a su amante a medio camino entre aquí y allá, entre un vínculo estable y la vida de soltero. Aquí, Julieta le dice a su amante obediente:

“Casi es de día. Quisiera que te hubieses ido;
Pero no más lejos de lo poco
Que una niña traviesa deja volar
Al pajarillo que tiene en la mano;
Infeliz cautivo de trenzadas ligaduras,
Al que así atrae de nuevo,
Recogiendo de golpe su hilo de seda.
¡Tanto es su amor enemigo de la libertad del prisionero!”

A lo que Romeo responde, cumpliendo las expectativas del amor romántico:

“Yo quisiera ser tu pajarillo.”

En este breve paseo por la historia, hemos llegado al punto de inflexión final del artículo, donde nos hacemos la pregunta del millón de dólares de Aristóteles: la causa final. ¿Con qué fin se emplean estos superestímulos?

Muchos responderían con un tópico: que tales prácticas consiguen “éxito reproductivo”; que la mujer que las utiliza obtiene una pareja de calidad y tiene descendencia que perpetúa la especie. Pero es una explicación demasiado simple. Para empezar, hay otros objetivos en la vida humana, aparte de la reproducción: el abastecimiento de alimentos, la obtención de riqueza, las necesidades afectivas, o la gratificación narcisista de una mujer que nunca haya querido tener descendencia. Los recursos obtenidos mediante esos superestímulos cuidadosamente preparados pueden servir para otros fines.

Además, los entusiastas de la reproducción parecen no haberse dado cuenta de que esas estrategias pueden ser perjudiciales para la reproducción. No hay más que observar las relaciones fallidas por doquier, la disminución del índice de natalidad y las sociedades occidentales en decadencia; todo ello augura un futuro negro, si continuamos montados a lomos de los superestímulos que tanto nos gusta explotar.

Sin duda, al habernos centrado en la reproducción, no hemos hecho suficiente hincapié en la gratificación narcisista, aunque ésta tampoco es la motivación final. No puede haber nada más gratificante para el impulso narcisista que el ejercicio del poder (cosa que hacen la mayoría de las mujeres), y los superestímulos les otorgan un poder inmenso para ello.

Es muy posible que la satisfacción narcisista sea un rasgo profundamente socializado de la mujer moderna, pero es evidente que sólo trae beneficios a corto plazo, y que a largo plazo los resultados no son demasiado positivos. Los datos muestran que el índice de infelicidad femenina ha aumentado rápidamente en esta época en la que la mujer “lo tiene todo”.

Cuculus_canorus_chick1En resumen, el ginocentrismo extremo en el que vivimos hoy en día es una aberración, un monstruo de Frankenstein que, en cierto modo, no debería existir; por lo menos no más que el gigantesco polluelo de cuco que crece en el nido de un pequeño pinzón. Es un fenómeno para el que nuestros sistemas no están preparados, pero continuamos atrapados en esteciclo de deseo incomprensible que lo mantiene vivo.

Podría compararse con una campaña propagandística tan fuerte como las que se usaban durante las guerras mundiales, apelando a nuestros reflejos territoriales; la diferencia es que esta campaña ha estado utilizándose y perfeccionándose continuamente desde hace 900 años.

Sea cual sea el impulso ginocéntrico que subyace en nuestro sistema nervioso, hoy en día se ha desarrollado exageradamente, y continuamos desarrollando mediante superestímulos cada vez más sofisticados. Pero si somos conscientes de ello, tal vez, sólo tal vez, podremos expulsar el huevo de cuco de nuestro nido biológico. Podemos empezar por reconocer que hemos estado hipnotizados, y tomar la decisión de no volver a consentirlo.

Es tan sencillo como dejar de ir en pos del dragón, y matarlo.

Fuentes:

[1] Artículo de Wikipedia sobre los superestímulos.

[2] Esther Vilar, El varón domado, (1971).

[3] Jones, D., Sexual Selection, Physical Attractiveness and Facial Neoteny: Cross-Cultural Evidence and Implications [“Selección sexual, atractivo físico y neotenia facial: pruebas y conclusiones interculturales”], Current Anthropology [“Antropología actual”], Vol. 36, No. 5 (1995), pp. 723-748.

[4] Cunningham, M.; Roberts, A.; Vu, C., “Their ideas of beauty are, on the whole, the same as ours”: consistency and variability in the cross-cultural perception of female physical attractiveness”[“Sus ideas de la belleza son, en su conjunto, las mismas que las nuestras: regularidad y variabilidad en la percepción intercultural del atractivo físico femenino”]. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology [“Revista de Psicología social y de la personalidad”] 68 (2): 261–79 (1995).

[5] John Toedt, Chemical Composition of Everyday Products [“Composición química de los productos cotidianos”], (2005).

[6] Linda D. Rhein, Mitchell Schlossman, Surfactants in Personal Care Products and Decorative Cosmetics [“Surfactantes en los productos de cuidado personal y en los cosméticos decorativos”], (2006)

[7] Laver, James., Abrams, H.N., The Concise History of Costume and Fashion [“Breve historia del vestuario y la moda”], (1979).

Fernand Braudel, Civilization and Capitalism, 15th–18th Centuries, Vol 1: The Structures of Everyday Life [“Civilización y capitalismo, siglos XV-XVIII, Vol 1: Las estructuras de la vida cotidiana”], William Collins & Sons, (1981)

[8] Jane Burns, Courtly Love Undressed: Reading Through Clothes in Medieval French Culture [“El amor cortés al desnudo: la interpretación de la cultura medieval francesa a través de la vestimenta”] (2005)

[9] Andreas Capellanus: The Art of Courtly Love[El arte del amor cortés] (republicado en 1990). El manual amoroso de Capellanus se escribió en 1185, por petición de Marie de Champagne, hija del rey Luis VII de Francia y de Leonor de Aquitania.

Foto de cuco por vladlen 666 – Obra propia, CCO.

http://www.avoiceformen.com/gynocentrism/the-supersizing-of-gynocentrism/